Amazon deforestation revisited

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This paper reviews the shifts in thinking as reflected in eight recent books that discuss deforestation in the Amazon. It looks first at whether the land uses that replace forests are profitable and sustainable without subsidies and then examines how technology, tenure, credit, and roads affect deforestation and the role of large and small landowners. It then analyses the potential of sustainable land-use alternatives for reducing deforestation. The following sections look at logging and forest fires. Drawing on the previous discussion, it then becomes possible to assess who will benefit from clearing forests or conserving them and who may pay the costs. Subsequent sections discuss indigenous territories and protected areas, macroeconomic issues, decentralization, and urban-rural interactions. Several other books under review examine other issues in addition to deforestation and consider regions outside the Amazon. This review concentrates only on the parts of these books that focus on Amazon deforestation. Most of the discussion focuses on Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

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