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Economic Development

Economic Development

A Shifting Equation Links Modern Farming and Forests.

New research is raising questions about sustainable growth, a notion dear to both environmentalists and development specialists. Both camps have embraced the assumption that improving agricultural practices in the developing world should relieve pressure to cut down nearby forests. But when looking at more than two dozen cases of deforestation, economists David Kaimowitz and Arild Angelsen of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia, noticed that the real-world equation was a bit more muddled: In Brazil, for example, a new strain of soybeans planted by farmers wound up accelerating the destruction of the tropical forest, while in the Philippines an irrigation project protected a tropical forest elsewhere on the same island.

Credits: The following article appeared in the 12 November issue of Science, page 1283, and is being reprinted with permission.