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 10: Policy Implications and Recommendations

João S. Campari


INTRODUCTION 10.1. How many of the assumptions that we rely on at a very deep level in theorizing about Amazonian deforestation are truly essential and how many of them can be relaxed and still potentially yield a world that appears close to ours? This book argues that most of the current assumptions about Amazon deforestation today are fundamentally driven by what is known and assumed to be known about the past, which do not necessarily reflect the forces behind current deforestation dynamics. The pace at which the agricultural frontier moves is very fast and the understanding of the factors that may have triggered deforestation in any one period is very likely to become obsolete before policy to contain it is designed and implemented. Therefore, the actions to contain deforestation in the Amazon have always been a step behind current developments. This book has looked into the turnover hypothesis and has rejected it as an important cause of deforestation. Although government-induced inter-regional migrations to the Amazon were associated with the opening of new frontiers during the 1970s, during the 1980s this ceased to exist. By the end of the 1980s, intra-regional migrations of small farmers continued, but the bulk of deforestation was carried out by a stable core population of large farmers. Turnover of colonization plots is, therefore, overemphasized as a root cause of deforestation in the literature. This study also argues that during the 1980s, deforestation was greater than expected, given that policy incentives enhanced the private benefits...

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