10 Feb 2010:
Growth of World’s Cities,
Global Trade are Driving Deforestation
The rapid expansion of the world’s urban populations and globalized trade — not the growth of small-scale farming in rural areas — have emerged as the primary forces driving tropical deforestation worldwide
, according to a new study. In the late 20th century, researchers tied the clearing of the world’s forests to the growth of rural populations and the related building of infrastructure and
Land clearing in Brazil
roadways. But with more people moving to cities in recent years, large industrial farms have expanded into forested areas to meet the demand from surging agricultural markets, according to the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience
. “One line of thinking was that concentrating people in cities would leave a lot more room for nature,” said Ruth DeFries, lead author of the study and professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “But those people in cities and the rest of the world need to be fed. That creates a demand for industrial-scale clearing.” The researchers analyzed population and economic trends from 41 nations across Latin America, Africa, and Asia from 2000 to 2005, as well as remote-sensing images of forest cover from the same period. They found that the greatest forest losses were associated with urban growth and increases in agricultural exports.
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A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
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An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.