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Theorizing Land Cover and Land Use Change: The Peasant Economy of Colonization in the Amazon BasinThis paper addresses deforestation processes in the Amazon basin. It deploys a methodology combining remote sensing and survey-based fieldwork to examine, with regression analysis, the impact household structure and economic circumstances on deforestation decisions made by colonist farmers in the forest frontiers of Brazil. Unlike most previous regression-based studies, the methodology implemented analyzes behavior at the level of the individual property. The regressions correct for endogenous relationships between key variables, and spatial autocorrelation, as necessary. Variables used in the analysis are specified, in part, by a theoretical development integrating the Chayanovian concept of the peasant household with spatial considerations stemming from von Thuenen. The results from the empirical model indicate that demographic characteristics of households, as well as market factors, affect deforestation in the Amazon. Thus, statistical results from studies that do not include household-scale information may be subject to error. From a policy perspective, the results suggest that environmental policies in the Amazon based on market incentives to small farmers may not be as effective as hoped, given the importance of household factors in catalyzing the demand for land. The paper concludes by noting that household decisions regarding land use and deforestation are not independent of broader social circumstances, and that a full understanding of Amazonian deforestation will require insight into why poor families find it necessary to settle the frontier in the first place.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Goddard Space Flight Center
Document Type
Caldas, Marcellus
(Michigan State Univ. East Lansing, MI, United States)
Walker, Robert
(Michigan State Univ. East Lansing, MI, United States)
Arima, Eugenio
(Hobart and William Smith Coll. Geneva, NY, United States)
Perz, Stephen
(Florida Univ. Gainesville, FL, United States)
Aldrich, Stephen
(Michigan State Univ. East Lansing, MI, United States)
Simmons, Cynthia
(Michigan State Univ. East Lansing, MI, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
March 1, 2007
Publication Information
Publication: Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Volume: 97
Issue: 1
Subject Category
Earth Resources And Remote Sensing
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits

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