There is no clear-cut causal relationship between international trade, agricultural expansion and tropical deforestation. Academics, policy-makers and the public are all tempted by simplistic solutions to complex problems. In order to establish the true causal factors involved in this critical area of environmental decline, the authors of this study present case studies ranging over three continents. Utilizing statistics, it is shown that the focus of analysis of deforestation must be applied as much to the misguided policies of national and regional authorities as to the forces of trade and globalization. Further, it demonstrates that we must adopt a critical perspective on the historical context of human use of forest areas, looking at issues such as systems of land tenure. The primary aim of the book is to highlight the need to seek solutions in far-reaching institutional and policy reforms adapted to specific socio-economic and ecological contexts, if the problem of tropical deforestation is to be tackled effectively.
Solon L Barraclough and Krishna B Ghimire are researchers at the United Nations research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva. Barraclough and Ghimire are co-authors of Forests and Livelihoods (Macmillan, 1995). Ghimire is co-editor (with Michael Pimbert) of Social Change and Conservation * (Earthscan, 1997).