Tropical forest gain and interactions amongst agents of forest change

Sloan, Sean (2016) Tropical forest gain and interactions amongst agents of forest change. Forests, 7 (3). 55.

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Abstract

The tropical deforestation literature advocates multi-agent enquiry in recognition that key dynamics arise from inter-agent interactions. Studies of tropical forest-cover gain have lagged in this respect. This article explores the roles and key aspects of interactions shaping natural forest regeneration and active reforestation in Eastern Panama since 1990. It employs household surveys of agricultural landholders, interviews with community forest-restoration organisations, archival analysis of plantation reforestation interests, satellite image analysis of forest-cover change, and the consideration of State reforestation policies. Forest-cover gain reflected a convergence of interests and land-use trends amongst agents. Low social and economic costs of sustained interaction and organisation enabled extensive forest-cover gain, but low transaction costs did not. Corporate plantation reforestation rose to the fore of regional forest-cover gain via opportunistic land sales by ranchers and economic subsidies indicative of a State preference for autonomous, self-organising forest-cover gain. This reforestation follows a recent history of neoliberal frontier development in which State-backed loggers and ranchers similarly displaced agriculturalists. Community institutions, long neglected by the State, struggled to coordinate landholders and so effected far less forest-cover gain. National and international commitments to tropical forest restoration risk being similarly characterised as ineffective by a predominance of industrial plantation reforestation without greater State support for community forest management.

Item ID: 44010
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1999-4907
Keywords: deforestation, community forest management, plantation, smallholder, forest transition, forest regeneration, tropical forest, reforestation
Additional Information:

© 2016 by the author; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Funders: The Social Science and Humanities Resource Council of Canada, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), McGill University, The Lindberg Foundation, Melbourne University, The Panamanian Secretariat for Science, Innovation and Technology (SENACYT), The Australian Laureate Grant of William F. Laurance
Date Deposited: 04 May 2016 07:30
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9612 Rehabilitation of Degraded Environments > 961203 Rehabilitation of Degraded Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 100%
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