Amazonian deforestation rates vary regionally, and ebb and flow according to macroeconomic policy and local social factors. We used remote sensing and field interviews to investigate deforestation patterns and drivers at a Peruvian frontier during 1986–1991, when rural credit and guaranteed markets were available; and 1991–1997, when structural adjustment measures were imposed. The highest rate of clearing (1.5% gross) was observed along roads during 1986–1991. Roadside deforestation slowed in 1991–1997 (0.7% gross) and extensive regrowth yielded a net increase in forest cover (0.5%). Deforestation along rivers was relatively constant. Riverside farms today retain more land in both crops and forest than do roadside farms where pasture and successional growth predominate. Long-term residents maintain more forest on their farms than do recent colonists, but proximity to urban markets is the strongest predictor of forest cover. Future credit programs must reflect spatial patterns of development and ecological vulnerability, and support the recuperation of fallow lands and secondary forest.
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