Population and Environment

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 89–113 | Cite as

Population Dynamics and Tropical Deforestation: State of the Debate and Conceptual Challenges

  • David L. CarrEmail author
  • Laurel Suter
  • Alisson Barbieri

What is the role of population in driving deforestation? This question was put forth as a discussion topic in the cyberseminar hosted by Population Environment Research Network (PERN) in Spring, 2003. Contributors from diverse backgrounds weighed in on the discussion, citing key factors in the population-deforestation nexus and suggesting further courses of action and research. Participants explored themes of their own choosing, with many coming to the forefront. Scale, time, and place-based effects were cited as areas in need of particular attention. Consumption patterns as the mechanism for spurring deforestation were discussed, drawing attention to the differential patterns associated with urban vs. rural demands on forest resources and land. The applicability of the IPAT formula and the influence of its component parts, affluence and technology, when operating in tandem with population, was debated. The relation of demographic factors to these pathways was critically examined. Institutional and governmental influence, such as infrastructure and policies affecting access and incentives, the valuation of resources, and institutional failures such as mismanagement and corruption emerged as a crucial set of factors. This article synthesizes the critical debates in the population-deforestation literature, makes suggestions for future paths of research, and discussed possible policy and direct action initiatives.

Key words

demography deforestation land use/cover change (LUCC) population 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. Carr
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laurel Suter
    • 1
  • Alisson Barbieri
    • 2
  1. 1.University of California Santa BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Carolina Population CenterChapel HillUSA

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