THE WINNERS – The big-time “winning interests” in a tropical nation which is cutting down its rainforests are those few groups who obtain large gains from forest removal. These include ranchers in Latin America, loggers in Southeast Asia (producing for the global or domestic market), and – as always – politicians. People needing agricultural land are the main “winners” in Africa, due to that continent’s rapid rate of population growth. The small number of individuals who gain from deforestation gain immensely and protect their interests via concessions from governments, (even if these activities result in a loss to the country or state). Other winners are consumers from the industrialized world, consumers who by deforestation can buy less expensive goods (foods, fibers, and wood for construction materials and furniture).
THE LOSERS – All denizens of tropical countries lose (except the few mentioned above). Many indigenous people and poor people lose their land and livelihoods when large companies move in to profit from forests. Even people from temperate regions lose, because they must forego the many values of the forests, such as ecosystem services, climate stabilization, and scientific and aesthetic values.
One comment on the present use of resources in Southeast Asia will suffice for all other tropical areas as well: “The remarkable feature of the present phase is the manner in which this resource frontier has become the property of whole nations, developed for gain under an exploiting and modernizing ethos in an era that, in a longer historical context, looks like one of frenzy.” (Brookfield, et al., 1993)