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Department of Zoology


Clearing the Amazon rainforest provides a quick boost to Brazilian communities’ wealth and quality of life, but these improvements are short-lived, according to new research published today in Science.

The study, by an international team including researchers at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, the University of East Anglia, CNRS, France, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Portugal, and IMAZON – the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment, Brazil, shows that levels of development revert back to well below national average levels when the loggers and land clearers move on.

Andrew Balmford, co-author of the study and Professor of Conservation Science concludes:

“The current boom-and-bust trajectory of Amazonian development is therefore undesirable in human terms as well as potentially disastrous for other species, and for the world’s climate. Reversing this pattern will hinge on capturing the values that people outside the Amazon gain from intact forest. so that local people’s livelihoods are better when the forest is left standing than when it is cleared."

“This will be extremely difficult, both financially and practically. But discussions being held in the run-up to this December’s crucial climate change meeting in Copenhagen about richer countries paying ones such as Brazil to retain the carbon stored in their forests offer some promise that this lose-lose-lose situation could be tackled, to the benefit of everyone - local Brazilians included.”

Science -

Further coverage'Boom and bust' of deforestation, BBC (12.06.09)