Improving Forest Conservation in Frontier Environments: A Global Review and Case Studies from the Peruvian Amazon
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The global conservation of intact forest ecosystems has been recognized as an important goal due to the many benefits they provide to people and biodiversity conservation. Despite their importance however, intact forest ecosystems continue to be cut and degraded globally at an unsustainable level. To improve the policies and strategies applied to conserve intact forest ecosystems, this dissertation seeks to improve our understanding of the design and selection of forest conservation policies in frontier environments. Frontier environments were selected as the focus of this dissertation due to their importance in buffering intact forests from human influences and because they are a frequent site of expanding deforestation hotspots. To better understand the dynamics of frontier environments and what forest conservation policies and strategies are likely to be effective, three case studies are presented. The first study presented is a meta-analysis of 81 case studies of deforestation in frontier environments. The results of the study highlight the importance of national politics, institutions, and international markets as important drivers and solutions to frontier deforestation. The second study is a regional-scale analysis focused on understanding deforestation and conservation policy dynamics on the frontier of Madre de Dios, Peru. The results of this study show the primary driver of frontier expansion changed from agriculture to gold mining during the study period and that the region's protected areas network had varying levels of effectiveness due primarily to the gold rush and government authorizations of gold mining concessions inside designated conservation areas. The third study presented analyzes conservation opportunities and challenges in a proposed biological corridor in Madre de Dios. The results of this study highlight the importance of fitting conservation policies to local land-user preferences and circumstances, as well as accounting for the variable preferences and circumstances of local land-users, the high opportunity costs facing selected land-users (especially gold miners), and uncertainties regarding future socio-economic conditions. Collectively, these studies describe the multitude of challenges and opportunities for successful conservation efforts in frontier environments and provide a foundation from which to establish principles for the design and selection of high-impact forest conservation policies for the frontier.
- Forestry