Articles Proximate Causes and Underlying Driving Forces of Tropical Deforestation HELMUT J. GEIST AND ERIC F. LAMBIN ne of the primary causes of global environmental TROPICAL FORESTS ARE DISAPPEARING Ochange is tropical deforestation, but the question of what factors drive deforestation remains largely unanswered AS THE RESULT OF MANY PRESSURES, (NRC 1999). Various hypotheses have produced rich argu- ments, but empirical evidence on the causes of deforestation BOTH LOCAL AND REGIONAL, ACTING IN continues to be largely based on cross-national statistical VARIOUS COMBINATIONS IN DIFFERENT analyses (Bilsborrow 1994, Brown and Pearce 1994, Williams 1994, Painter and Durham 1995, Sponsel et al. 1996, Murali GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS and Hedge 1997, Rudel and Roper 1997, Fairhead and Leach 1998). In some cases, these analyses are based on debatable data on rates of forest cover change (Palo 1999). The two major, policies, that underpin the proximate causes and either op- mutually exclusive—and still unsatisfactory—explanations for erate at the local level or have an indirect impact from the na- tropical deforestation are single-factor causation and irre- tional or global level. ducible complexity. On the one hand, proponents of single- We analyzed the frequency of proximate causes and un- factor causation suggest various primary causes,
BioScience – Oxford University Press
Published: Feb 1, 2002
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