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April 05, 2008

Space vs. Place: Population and Deforestation in Guatemala

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Special Interest Group welcomes you to attend a lecture by David L. Carr, associate professor of geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The event is sponsored by The Institute for Research in the Social Sciences and the Stanford Humanities Center.

When: Thursday, April 24, 3pm
Where: Yang and Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Woods Institute for the Environment), Room 102

In explaining variability in tropical deforestation, land change scientists have focused almost exclusively on in situ (or “on-farm”) resource use, while population scholars have largely ignored rural-to- rural migration. The ways in which household responses to the human and physical environment in one place may affect land cover change in another place have been inadequately explored. This lecture investigates the primary proximate and underlying causes of deforestation in the humid tropics with a case study from Guatemala.

To investigate the first cause of this phenomenon, farmer land use, Professor Carr collected data from over 500 farmers in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR). To address the second cause of deforestation in the MBR, migration, he conducted interviews with community leaders in twenty-eight communities of MBR settler origin. Evidence suggests that space and place remain essential heuristics to understanding the deforestation process in the tropics. Results from the MBR revealed several factors positively related to forest clearing at the farm level including family size, secure land title, duration on the farm, agricultural intensification, ethnicity, and farm size. Results from areas of origin of migrants to the MBR suggest that larger families, Q’eqchí Maya, landless households, families with small or environmentally degraded plots, households with poor access to labor and produce markets, the least educated, and the exceptionally poor run the greatest risk for migration to the frontier. Evidently, attention to both migration origin and destination areas enhances options for policy interventions aimed at sustainable rural development and forest conservation.

David Carr has served as principal investigator on grants from NASA, NIH, and NSF, enjoyed collaborations with the IHDP, USAID, WWF, TNC, CI, and the IPCC, and has authored over fifty publications on land use/cover change, protected areas, migration, fertility, and health in the tropics.

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Special Interest Group @ Stanford (http://gissig.stanford.edu) is formed around a common interest in GIS, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Our mission is to facilitate a multidisciplinary network of faculty and students who apply or will be applying GIS, spatial technologies and methods.

Posted by tanya at April 5, 2008 01:27 PM