Mediating factors and deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia: a mixed-method analysis

John Sydenstricker-Neto, Cornell University

Although significant progress in our understanding of the dynamics of land-use and land-cover change (LUCC) has been made, human population pressure continues to be portrayed as the major factor affecting forest destruction. This paper assesses the importance of the “population factor” as a cause of deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia. The analysis draws from multiple data sources (i.e. demographic census, household survey, land-cover maps, and in-depth interviews) and different methodological approaches (i.e. fuzzy sets statistics, remote sensing/GIS analysis, and interpretivist qualitative approach). The paper contends that a full account of the complex web of drivers involved in tropical deforestation needs to go beyond demographics per se. The paper shows that social structure and mediating factors such as cultural aspects and human capital involving education, managerial skills, previous rural experience, and integration to the local and regional contexts mediate migrants’ relationships with the local environment.

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Presented in Session 162: Population and environment