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Introduction: Human response to environmental decline at the forest frontier

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Author(s): Keith Alger

Journal: Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy
ISSN 1548-7733

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 29;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: environmental management | land use | policy research | deforestation | malaria | resource development | population-environment relationship | socioeconomic factors | social behavior

ABSTRACT
Scientific insights about the places where the greatest environmental costs (and human welfare losses) might be avoided has too frequently been misperceived as knowledge about which policy interventions are effective in the extremely varied contexts where these losses can occur. This forum demonstrates the behavioral consequences that can occur when protected areas are expanded to slow deforestation and highlights a need to better understand the behavioral changes that deforestation, infrastructure development, and malaria emergence prompt in tropical areas. Facilitation of this awareness will require the integration of rigorous social and ecological science in an interdisciplinary context. This work should be aimed at understanding the opportunity costs of economic drivers, such as soybean expansion, logging, mining, hunting, and wildlife trade, in order to scale the countervailing incentives that are incorporated into common property institutions or economic instruments. To get ahead of the curve of worsening environmental degradation and the poverty traps that occur at the forest edge requires special attention to the scientific evaluation of policies that create incentives for environmental stewardship in the varied contexts of the tropical forest frontier.
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