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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
Mongabay.com
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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