Child in village in the Antanifotsy Valley, Madagascar
A transition in the drivers of deforestation over the past 20 years means that efforts to reduce rural poverty through programs that attempt to link nature conservation with sustainable rural development may fail to stop deforestation on a global scale, argues a new paper published in Nature Geoscience.
The research—based on newly available, spatially explicit analysis of tropical forest loss—bolsters the argument that deforestation is increasingly driven by international demand for commodities, rather than subsistence activities. Bringing an end to deforestation will thus require tackling unsustainable patterns of consumption, a tall order given rapidly rising affluence in countries around the world.
“Efforts need to focus on reducing deforestation for industrial-scale, export-oriented agricultural production, concomitant with efforts to increase yields in non-forested lands to satisfy demands for agricultural products,” write Ruth S. DeFries, Thomas Rudel, Maria Uriarte and Matthew Hansen, the authors of the paper.