The Environmental Costs of Civil War: A Synthetic Comparison of the Congolese Forests with and without the Great War of Africa

Kyosuke Kikuta has published, “The Environmental Costs of Civil War: A Synthetic Comparison of the Congolese Forests with and without the Great War of Africa,” in Journal of Politics.

Abstract: Despite the fact that, between 1950 and 2000, more than 80% of wars occurred within biodiversity hot spots, we do not fully understand the environmental costs of war. This study conducts one of the first systematic evaluations of the costs of civil war for forest environments. The analysis, however, requires a proper counterfactual: the forest coverage if it were not for civil war. Moreover, instead of estimating an average cost of diverse civil wars, it would be better to tailor the estimate to each war. I address these problems by applying the synthetic control method to the case of the Great War of Africa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The analysis shows that the civil war caused a 1.61% loss of the forests, which is more than the entire territory of Belgium and nearly a half of Sierra Leone, over five years. The finding calls further attention to “conflict timber” problems.