Ecological Studies Volume 214, 2011, pp 197-221

Exploring the Association Between People and Deforestation in Madagascar

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Abstract

An island widely recognized for remarkably high biological diversity, Madagascar continues to experience considerable deforestation. This study explores possible causes of forest loss between 1990 and 2000. Applying a multivariate probit model, the study considers a range of human geographic, physical geographic, and infrastructure data to identify likely reasons for deforestation during the final decade of the twentieth century. Results indicate that protected areas substantially slow forest loss. They also show that access via roads and footpaths were important prerequisites for deforestation during the 1990s. Neither population density nor poverty seemed to be related to forest loss, though data shortcomings may help explain this lack of relationship. The issues that appear to be linked to deforestation in Madagascar are sensitive to policy decisions, suggesting that development strategies can help stem forest loss in this important repository of biological diversity.