DEFORESTATION: UNDERSTANDING THE 'DRIVING FORCES'

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (January 2, 2002 – East-West Wire)---Satellite images show how much forest cover is lost, but they don't tell why. That information is collected at ground level. Researchers, however, rarely combine remote-sensing data with household surveys, according to an East-West Center scientist.

"People cause deforestation," said Jefferson Fox, a specialist on changes in land use and community-based management of natural resources. "We're trying to understand the driving forces."

To help identify those forces, an East-West Center workshop starting Friday will link information on deforestation and land-use change that has been collected from both remote-sensory images and household surveys. The workshop, running Jan.4-8, will gather 30 experts from around the world to look at eight case studies in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Fox said this is the first time that social and physical scientists looking at such case studies have "been in the same room speaking the same language."

Fox and Vinod Mishra, an East-West Center specialist in environmental impacts on health, coordinated the workshop with the University of North Carolina. Participants include well-known experts such as Emilio Moran of Brazil, who specializes in the Amazon rain forest, and Eric F. Lambin of Belgium, who studies deforestation in Africa. Case studies being considered at the workshop include one on panda habitat in China led by Jianguo Liu of Michigan State University.

Between 1990 and 2000, Asia lost 364,000 hectares of forest cover at an average annual loss of -0.1%. Africa showed a loss of -0.8% and South America -0.4%. The average annual loss for the world was -0.2%. "The rate of Asia's deforestation compared to elsewhere is small," Fox noted.

For additional information: Jefferson Fox can be reached at 808-944-7248 or foxj@eastwestcenter.org  Vinod Mishra can be reached at 808-944-7452 or mishra@hawaii.edu 

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