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The Changing Social Contexts of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon

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Objective. This article reviews changes in the social contexts of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon from the 1970s to the 1990s, moving from the household to the global level. Methods. I draw on satellite imagery, state publications, farm surveys, ethnographic field work, and policy analyses for a comparative analysis that shows how land cover, agriculture, demographics, politics, and markets have changed over time. Results. Alterations in the social contexts of deforestation appear on all levels considered, from household demographic evolution and new land use strategies to a regional demographic transition and the emergence of cattle and timber economies, to a “greening” of Brazilian development policy and changes in national land markets, to multilateral bank loans for new infrastructure and local-international alliances between grassroots and environmental organizations. Conclusions. The social contexts of deforestation are very complex and changing and call for greater attention by social scientists to land cover and land use change.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Florida

Publication date: 01 March 2002

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