PROJECT OVERVIEW

It is increasingly evident that human settlements have a significant impact on ecosystem services in the Brazilian Amazon. Models of river system dynamics confirm the importance of changes in the hydrological cycle in predicting the impacts of continued deforestation and suggest a need for more empirical research on interactions between hydrological systems and land use. Our previous projects have focused on the controversy around the conversion of forests to pastures in the tropics and its purported relationship with poverty: does poverty cause deforestation or deforestation cause poverty? This work has led us to conclude that deforestation is contributing to significant and lasting improvements in local human welfare. These improvements are measurable, translating into higher levels of human capital (through greater access and availability of education), increases in income that far exceed the pace of inflation, welfare improvements, and movements out of poverty. There is a large and growing literature on the global costs of deforestation, and while we have contributed to a small but growing knowledge base on the local and regional benefits of deforestation, we lack information on the local and regional ecosystem losses associated with deforestation. These losses are crucial to answering the broader research questions noted above because local agents are ultimately the final decision-makers on deforestation. Thus, we need to understand better how they are affected by the negative environmental externalities of deforestation. Specifically, river ecosystem services are understudied and not yet well understood. It is these lacunae that motivate us to continue working in our study region. And, it is the early evidence of local climate change in the form of severely reduced river flow during the dry season, and the personal stories of individuals in our survey region that now live with this reality that compel us to expand our research to examine the forest, agriculture and rivers in the Brazilian Amazon.

2009 PROJECT AND FIELD CAMPAIGN

National Science Foundation, SES-0752936

The goals of this project are to maintain the continuity of a long-term, spatially referenced panel that is valuable to other researchers on both methodological and policy grounds. This fourth round of data collection increased the time period under consideration to nearly 15 years, building on previous methods for spatial referencing and tracking households and individuals.

2005 PROJECT AND FIELD CAMPAIGN

National Science Foundation, SES-0452852

The goals of this project are to add to our understanding of household land use and economic welfare in the Amazon basin, through the collection of a third round of panel data with improved spatial referencing and a new system for tracking households and individuals. We use these data to model the relationship between deforestation and household well-being, thereby gaining insight on welfare outcomes that also have implications for conservation policies.

2000 PROJECT AND FIELD CAMPAIGN

National Science Foundation, SES-0076549

The goals of this project are to develop a framework for the collection of a survey panel. Each of the households surveyed in 1996 were identified and administered a follow up survey in 2000. Addresses and surveyors names obtained in 1996 were used to facilitate this process in this year to ensure the same lots and household members were interviewed in both years. Global position systems (GPS) points were collected at each household and used to identify lot locations in future years.

1996 PROJECT AND FIELD CAMPAIGN

National Security Education Program, Organization of American States, Institute of World Politics, McClure Fund Foundation

This first field campaign included the collection of survey data from a stratified random sample of 171 farmers in Ouro Preto do Oeste that was complemented with a sample of 25 APA (Association of Alternative Farmers) to investigate the adoption sustainable methods of farming.