Many people in tropical countries have little confidence in their governments, or in their policies. Government agents are often corrupt. In some cases the government establishes protected areas without consulting local communities and is thereby seen as arrogant and dictatorial. The military is sometimes used to guard these reserves, and, generally, is not viewed favorably by the community or seen as protecting their interests. They are frequently correct in this assumption, unfortunately.

We have artificially separated the many causes of rainforest destruction, but of course many of them are interrelated. The driving force for most deforestation is the rapidly increasing human population in all of the countries which encompass rainforests within their boundaries, as well as in other countries which provide the consumer demand for tropical products. In the past, exploitative activities were at least sometimes compatible with rainforest regeneration because demand was relatively low; now, however, the demands upon rainforests are far beyond their carrying and regeneration capacities.

Goklany (1998) summarizes the major causes of rainforest destruction as follows: “…changes in forest cover seem due to population pressure for agricultural land (particularly in Africa and Asia), poor government policies (e.g., subsidies, resettlement schemes, and creation of water reservoirs), domestic demand, uncertain land tenure and property rights systems, social structures that displace various populations who then have to resort to deforestation, and corrupt political structures.”

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