The Little Book of Big Deforestation Drivers


external contributions from Shoana Humphries, Daniel Nepstad, Claudia Stickler


Tropical deforestation has been occurring on an industrial scale for decades, driven initially by demand for timber. However, the impact and complexity of its causes have evolved immensely as forests are increasingly cleared not just for wood, but also for land on which to grow other commodities. Large areas of the Amazon have now been cleared for cattle ranching and soya production, and in Asia, peatland forests are being converted to oil palm plantations. Whilst standing forests appear to be economically valueless, their conversion for agribusiness can deliver astonishingly high returns on investment. Africa is being targeted by investors hungry for cheap land; much of its forest could be felled for agriculture to feed the world’s growing populations.