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Environ Res Lett. 2012;7(4). pii: 045603.

AGRO-ECOLOGICAL DRIVERS OF RURAL OUT-MIGRATION TO THE MAYA BIOSPHERE RESERVE, GUATEMALA.

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1
Professor, Department of Geography, 4836 Ellison Hall, UC Santa Barbara (UCSB), Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4060, 805-456-2830, http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/~carr/

Abstract

Migration necessarily precedes environmental change in the form of deforestation and soil degradation in tropical agricultural frontiers. But what environmental factors may contribute to these migration streams in the first place? Identifying environmental characteristics related to this process is crucial for understanding how environmental change and migration may form recurrent feedback loops. Further understanding this process could be useful for developing policies to reduce both environmentally induced migration from origin areas and also to palliate significant environmental change unleashed by settler deforestation in destination areas. Evidently, apprehending this holistic process cannot be approached only from the destination since this ignores environmental and other antecedents to rural out-migration. This paper presents data from surveys conducted in areas of high out-migration to the agricultural frontier in northern Guatemala. Results suggest that land scarcity and degradation in origin communities are linked to out-migration in general and to the forest frontier of northern Guatemala in particular.

KEYWORDS:

Latin America; agriculture; conservation; degradation; environmental pushes; frontier settlement; land use and land cover change; migration

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