Forest Economies: A Remedy to Amazonian Deforestation?

Juan José del Valle Coello

Abstract


Commonly described as the “lungs of the planet,” the Amazon rainforest represents over half of the remaining rainforest in the world, constituting an important global carbon sink and one of the most culturally- and biologically-diverse regions of the world. The past half-century has seen a worrisome amount of deforestation in this rainforest, but different regions within the Amazon, however, compare differently in terms of deforestation trajectories. What has been the role of products obtained from managing forests, such as the now globally-consumed açaí palm fruit, in reverting deforestation trends? My hypothesis is that there is a statistically significant negative correlation between such forest products and extent of deforestation. This study examines, within the historical and social context of the Amazon Delta and Estuary, the relationship between açaí agroforestry and deforestation. The focus units are the municípios (roughly equivalent to counties) that constitute the Amazon Delta and Estuary, all located in the northern Brazilian states of Amapá and Pará. Statistical data for deforestation obtained from PRODES, a Brazilian governmental project, which monitors deforestation via satellite, is used to ascertain deforestation in the region. This dataset is then correlated with census-based production data for each município for the period from 2002 to 2012. Mapping these variables onto municípios does visually demonstrate a contrast between areas of high deforestation and high açaí production; however, the relationship is not statistically significant.

 

Keywords


Amazon, deforestation, agroforesty, açai

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