The Economics of Deforestation in the Amazon
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The Economics of Deforestation in the Amazon

Dispelling the Myths

João S. Campari

This provocative new book presents the results of twenty years of research on deforestation in the Amazon. By carefully observing the changing character of human settlements and their association with deforestation over such a prolonged period, the author is able to reject much of the ‘perceived wisdom’. He skillfully dissects various models of deforestation and provides hard evidence on what is myth and what is reality.
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Chapter 5: The Turnover Hypothesis of Amazon Deforestation: Conceptual Framework

João S. Campari


INTRODUCTION 5.1. Although the underlying economic and political forces that stimulated migrations during the 1970s had disappeared by the mid-1980s, the Amazon continued to experience demographic instability, deforestation and concentration of land. Although in the 1970s migrants arrived in the Amazon from other regions, the difference in the 1980s was the end of interregional migrations and the beginning of intraregional migrations. Moreover, during the 1980s, the Amazon developed a critical mass of politicians and a local élite that began to define local priorities. During that period, the region acquired its own socio-economic dynamics that began to influence migration patterns with direct consequences for deforestation and land re-concentration. Therefore, in the 1980s, locally generated stimuli replaced external forces. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the source of demographic instability in the Amazon continued to be the migrations of the rural population, mainly that of small farmers. These farmers have always been the first ones to arrive and, therefore, are considered the initial source of deforestation in new frontiers. It is conjectured that, after arrival, they engage in a sequence of predictable uses of land, which ultimately culminates in the sale of their plots to new owners, who, for different reasons and purposes, deforest even more. The hypothesized process of pioneer settlers arriving in a directed colonization project, settling in for a few years, deforesting part of the plot for agricultural production, and then selling out the land to a newcomer is called turnover. For many years, several authors in many...

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