Soybeans, Development and Conservation on the Amazon Frontier

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Abstract

Bolivia's rate of deforestation throughout the 1990s was among the most rapid anywhere in the Amazon Basin. This drastic clearing stood in sharp contrast to the relatively slow rates of landscape change that had prevailed in previous decades. This article reviews the models used for explaining deforestation, and argues that the new context of globalization, structural adjustment, regional integration and rapid technological change contributed to accelerated forest cutting during the 1990s. The author suggests that many environmental policy approaches developed during the 1970s and 1980s no longer address the current clearing situation effectively, and that today's frontiers differ profoundly from previous ones. The widely held idea that intensive production per se reduces forest destruction may not be valid on tropical agro-industrial frontiers, such as the soybean zones of Bolivia and Brazil.

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