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Poverty, commodity prices and agricultural deforestation: lessons from the Ecuadorean coast

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(Project) M.A.
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Deforestation literature commonly associates rising commodity prices with forest loss. Informal interviews in Manabí, Ecuador suggested that corn crops from forest conversion are often abandoned before harvest. Medium-resolution satellite imagery was used to formally measure the conversion of forest to cornfields. Between 2000 and 2005, despite a 185% increase in real domestic corn prices, coastal Ecuador experienced a 2.2% increase in total forested area. This observed forest gain contradicts the widely cited FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment deforestation rates. A multi-disciplinary approach brings into question the utility of national level patterns in sub-regional decision-making. When conducting future research, scholars must consider the original scale of measurement before applying past deforestation estimates.
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