Forestry Commission

Front view of Forestry Commission's Corporate Office showing an Aviary.

Published: Thursday, 23 June 2016


Understanding the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation is vital in developing the policies and measures needed to effectively alter the current trends of forest loss and climate change, and to promote a positive future for biodiversity and human well-being. The underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation lie in the ever-increasing demand for food, fuel and forest products that result from not only a growing global population, but also from the higher incomes and resulting changing patterns of consumption of an increasing proportion of that population (see Boucher et al., 2012). This problem is exacerbated by the fact that growing demand causes an alarming increase in the price of a number of commodities, further incentivising land-use extension and encroachment into forests.

The causes of deforestation vary both regionally and temporally. They generally do not exist in isolation but operate through a complex range of interactions with one threat facilitating another. Over the last 50 years there has been a shift from deforestation driven by largely state-driven activities to that caused by enterprise-driven activities (see FPP, 2012). From the 1960s to 1980s, small-scale subsistence activities were predominantly responsible as governments endorsed the colonisation of forests by facilitating access through infrastructural improvements and decreasing land prices. Since then however, globalisation and urbanisation have heightened the demand from distant urban and export markets, weakening the previously strong association between local demand and deforestation and placing commercial enterprises at the heart of the problem (see Rudel et al., 2009).

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