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Tropical Forest Conservation: An Economic Assessment of the Alternatives in Latin Americaby Douglas Southgate
Synopses & Reviews
This book demonstrates that local communities rarely benefit from the environmentally sound enterprises being promoted in and around threatened habitats, either because those enterprises are unprofitable or because benefits are captured by outsiders providing key services like reliable transportation. The author contends that human capital formation and related productivity-enhancing investment is the only sure path to economic progress and habitat conservation.
Book News Annotation:
This book developed partly out of Southgate's work as a consultant to the Inter-American Development Bank to assess the contributions that nontimber extraction, low-impact logging, genetic prospecting, and ecotourism can make to tropical forest conservation in Latin America. He begins with a review of the causes of deforestation, then examines the challenges of sustainable forest-based activities, and details the economics of environmentally sound harvesting. His conclusion offers an integrated strategy for habitat protection and economic progress.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Attempts to halt the destruction of rain forests and other natural habitats in the tropics have met with little success. In particular, national parks, like those found in wealthy nations, have proven difficult to establish in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America. More often than not, people inhabiting areas designated for protection resist being told by outsiders that they must change how and where they live. Alternative approaches, frequently embodied in integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs), are now being pursued. The goal is to address local communities' desires for improved standards of living while simultaneously meeting conservation objectives. Nature-based tourism and sustainable harvesting of forest products are the centerpieces of ICDPs and related initiatives.
This book assesses the viability of conservation strategies predicated on the adoption of environmentally sound enterprises in and around threatened habitats. Drawing on research in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru and on his extensive experience working in South and Central America and the Caribbean, the author demonstrates that it is rare for forest dwellers to derive much benefit from ecotourism, the extraction of timber and other commodities, or the collection of samples used in pharmaceutical research. Often these activities are simply unprofitable. Even when they are profitable, the benefits tend not to accrue locally, but instead are captured by outside firms and individuals who can provide important services like safe and reliable transportation. The author contends that human capital formation and related productivity-enhancing investment is the only sure path to economic progress and habitat conservation.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 153-165) and index.
Table of Contents
Part I: Deforestation and its causes and the challenge of sustainable forest-based activities
1. Deforestation in the American Tropics: the regional and global stakes
2. The causes of excessive habitat destruction
3. Putting an end to ecosystem depletion
Part II: The economic returns of environmentally sound harvesting of forest products and of nature-based tourism
4. Harvesting of nontimber products
5. Environmentally sound timber production
6. Genetic prospecting
7. Nature-based tourism
Part III. Key elements of an integrated strategy for habitat protection and economic progress
8. Another approach to habitat conservation: agricultural intensification
9. Paying for habitat conservation and investing in human and social capital
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