Land and forest degradation as well as forest fragmentation remain among
the most relevant environmental issues in this region in all scenarios.
The patterns of conversion of forests to pasture and agricultural land
vary by scenario and sub-region. Just as important as the total forest
area is the level of exploitation of the forests.
Significant loss of forest area occurs in a Markets First scenario.
This scenario also sees much greater exploitation of existing forests.
In a Security First world, the control over forest resources by
transnational companies that create cartels in association with the national
groups in power, promote the growth of some forest areas, but this is
not enough to stop net deforestation. Private control of forests also
leads to occasional violent resistance from forest dwellers and nearby
settlers who need access to the forests to meet their daily needs.
More effective management remedies some of these problems in Policy
First. In this scenario, policies to promote forest plantations are
enacted and institutional strengthening creates better forest control,
reducing illegal extraction of timber from native forests and promoting
sound forest management practices for commercial production. However,
deforestation remains a problem and pressures also arise on forests from
the desire to be more selfsufficient in food production. Unsound deforestation
stops almost completely in Sustainability First. Policies addressing
the restoration of degraded forests through the natural regeneration of
forest ecosystems are implemented as the value of forest services is internalized
by world markets. Moreover, the use of alternative fuels to firewood is
now more scientifically and economically feasible, while commercial use
of forests under forest management certification regimes has turned out
to be highly profitable.
|Key to charts
Changes in land cover pose risks for land degradation (see chart below).
In Markets First and Security First worlds, the agricultural
frontier continues to expand into rainforest ecosystems. This expansion
is driven by large commercial livestock farming and industrial cropping,
along with influxes of immigrants attracted by these developments and
by new infrastructure projects. Exacerbated by drought, many more desertification
hotspots are evident by 2032. Land tenure reforms ameliorate these drivers
in Policy First and Sustainability First but not in the
other scenarios. However, enforcement of direct and indirect regulations
does lead to improvements in controlling soil erosion, dramatically reducing
the amount of cropland lost to degradation. In addition, some degraded
land is restored, leading to markedly lower net rates than in Markets
First or Security First (see below).
|Area with high risk of water-induced
soil degradation: Latin America and the Caribbean (% of total
Source: IMAGE 2.2 (see technical annex)
|Percentage of 2002 cropland severely
degraded by 2032: Latin America and the Caribbean
Bars represent the percentage of cropland
that has become so degraded by 2032 that it is of little value
Source: PoleStar (see technical