Forest Recovery

Presented by Professor Susanna Hecht, Luskin School of Public Affairs/Public Policy, Geography, and IoES

Monday, January 6th, 2014

La Kretz Hall, Suite 300

Large conference room

Forest dynamics in Latin America tropics now take directions that no one would have predicted a decade ago. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has dropped by over 84%,  and is down by a third in Central America if not more. Forest resurgence—-increasing forest cover in inhabited landscapes or abandoned lands—- also is  a highly noticeable process, and one barely on the radar. Increasingly wooded working landscapes are now more valorized for their livelihood, environmental and  conservation services. Urban dwellers in the mid tier towns are highly dependent on rural resources and labor markets giving different kinds of economic and livelihood ;logics to forested landscape in what has been termed  ?The new rurality?. These dramatic shifts suggest quite profound and rapid transformations of the agrarian worlds, and imply that previous models of understanding rural environmental dynamics  (and urbanization patters) merit significant review centering less on field agriculture and more on emergent forest regimes. Much has been made of analyzing deforestation drivers, which were largely products of Latin America's Authoritarian time but far less attention has been paid to the implications of forest recovery and wooded landscapes which emerged through the rise of new forms of governance, markets, migration and "Neo-liberalization" of nature. New institutional framings, ideologies, political decentralization, globalizations and migrations and an expanded arena for new social movements and civil society provided the context for this transformation as did cheap food policies imports that undermined local wage food production. Finally, the rise of environmental economies monetized forest landscapes, although not necessarily equitably. These point to significant changes in tropical natures of the 21st century.

About the speaker:

Professor Hecht is a specialist on tropical development in Latin America, especially the Amazon Basin and Central America. Her research focuses on the political economies of development ranging from corporate frontiers of cattle and export commodity agriculture (like soy, oil palm) to populist land occupation. She also studies their comparative environmental and social impacts. She also explores alternatives to destructive development, and analyzes the forms of conservation in inhabited landscapes whether through indigenous technologies, non timber extractive products, niche markets as well as new tenurial forms (such as extractive reserves), social movements and globalization, including the role of remittances and migratory networks in reshaping rural land uses. The impacts of emerging green markets and greenhouse gas offsets for smaller scale farmers also form part of her research concerns.

Lunch will be provided.