Tropical Deforestation Brings Economic Boom, Followed by Human & Ecological Bust

amazon deforestation photo

photo: Samuel M Beebe/Ecotrust, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0, via a href=flickr.

As light increasingly gets shined on the impact of deforestation on accelerating climate change, we have a new report published in today's issue of Science which show that not only in deforestation bad for the planet, the economic gains some ascribe to the conversion of land to agriculture are very much short-lived:The study, done by an team of researchers from the UK and Brazil, led by Ana Rodrigues of the University of Cambridge, looked at 286 towns and villages in the Amazon.

Utilizing the UN's Human Development Index as a benchmark—which takes into account standard of living, life expectancy and literacy rates—the team found that though areas saw improvement in all these categories in the initial periods after land was converted to agricultural purposes or logged, once this initial period of economic activity was over the scores returned to previous levels and were comparable to areas which never were logged in the first place.

Chopping Down Forests Helps Neither People Nor the Planet
Dr Rodrigues told BBC News that, "It is generally assumed that replacing the forest with crops and pastureland is the best approach for fulfilling the region's legitimate aspirations to development." But this new research shows that this gains simply aren't sustained. This includes the strictly economic gains, which were not sustainable.

Furthermore, though this study focused only on the Amazon, Dr Rodrigues speculated that these conclusions probably are valid for other areas of the world rapidly chopping down tropical forests such as Africa and Southeast Asia.

More: Boom-and-Bust Development Patterns Across the Amazon Deforestation Frontier (subscription or pay-per-view), BBC News
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