Cover of Reversing Deforestation by Brent Sohngen and Douglas Southgate
Reversing Deforestation
How Market Forces and Local Ownership Are Saving Forests in Latin America
Brent Sohngen and Douglas Southgate

December 2024
256 pages.
from $32.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503630253
Paperback ISBN: 9781503641396



Dire reports of surging deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon appear often in international headlines, with commentators decrying the destruction of tree-covered habitats as an act of environmental vandalism. Although forest losses are alarming, broader trends are bending in the direction of forest recovery. In this book, Brent Sohngen and Douglas Southgate address the long-term recovery of forests in Latin America. The authors synthesize trends in demography, agricultural development, and technological change, and argue that slower population growth and increasing crop and tree yields—in conjunction with protecting local ownership of natural resources—have encouraged forest transition. This book explores how market forces, ownership arrangements, and the enforcement of property rights have influenced this shift from net deforestation to net afforestation.

Forest transitions have happened before, such as the recovery of tree-covered habitats in Europe and the United States. Signs of a similar transformation in land use are now present in Latin America. Ending deforestation requires a strengthening of forest dwellers' property rights while ensuring that biodiversity conservation is no longer treated as a value-less externality. The resulting forest landscape, actively managed for ecosystem services, will be more resilient, as is needed to overcome climate change.

About the authors

Brent Sohngen is CFAES Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at The Ohio State University.

Douglas Southgate is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Developmental Economics at The Ohio State University.