This article was originally published on Phys.org
“Tropical deforestation is a major contributor to climate change and loss of local and global ecosystem functions. Latin America accounts for a large share of remaining tropical forests, but also features deforestation rates well above the world average. Here, the biggest driver of deforestation is expansion of agricultural frontiers to meet the demands of international markets. Power imbalances and economic inequality have long been assumed to play a role in the processes causing loss of tropical forests. Yet the effects of inequality on the environment remain a subject of scientific debate. Some observers suggest that increasing inequality hinders the collective action necessary to protect the environment. Others suggest that powerful elites concerned about environmental conservation can enable better ecosystem preservation—for example, by mandating large protected areas.
A new study carried out by Graziano Ceddia at the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, takes a first-ever look at the specific links between different forms of inequality, increasing agricultural productivity, and farmland expansion at the expense of forests in Latin America. The study shows that greater inequality increases deforestation, and less inequality better protects forests in the long-term. The findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Using productivity gains to protect forests
Increasing agricultural productivity (output per hectare) has the potential to reduce pressure on remaining forests, sparing land for nature while continuing to meet global food demands. But it can also increase the profitability of farming and incentivize the conversion of more forests to cropland…”
Read on at: Phys.org