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The article first reviews rates and definitions of tropical deforestation and the
environmental implications in terms of climate change, biodiversity loss, and reduced
supply of forest products. Tropical deforestation and other land use changes
contributed about 20% of the global anthropogenic CO2 emissions during the 1990s.
The main focus of the article is on the driving forces of deforestation. The starting point
is to investigate which factors make deforestation the most attractive option to farmers,
private companies and governments – the immediate causes of deforestation. These
include high agricultural prices, easy access to forests and lack of alternative
employment. The effects of other factors such as agricultural technologies, poverty and
property rights appear to be more context specific. These factors are determined by
broader forces, the underlying causes of deforestation, but the links are complex
making global generalizations difficult. In fact, the empirical foundation for much of the
conventional wisdom on the underlying causes is surprisingly weak. The article also
underscores to the political economy dimension of tropical deforestation. Different
groups have unequal access to the forest and policies are often designed to benefit elite

Authors: Angelsen, A.

Topic: tropical forests,deforestation,causes,economic analysis

Publication Year: 2001

ISBN: 0-08-043076-7

Source: Smelser, N., Baltes, P.B. (eds.) International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences.

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