Deforestation dynamics and drivers in different forest types in Latin America: Three decades of studies (1980–2010)

Dolors Armenteras, Josep María Espelta, Nelly Rodríguez, Javier Retana

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91 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Over the last decades there have been a considerable number of deforestation studies in Latin America reporting lower rates compared with other regions; although these studies are either regional or local and do not allow the comparison of the intraregional variability present among countries or forest types. Here, we present the results obtained from a systematic review of 369 articles (published from 1990 to 2014) about deforestation rates for 17 countries and forest types (tropical lowland, tropical montane, tropical and subtropical dry, subtropical temperate and mixed, and Atlantic forests). Drivers identified as direct or indirect causes of deforestation in the literature were also analysed. With an overall annual deforestation rate of −1.14 (±0.092 SE) in the region, we compared the rates per forest type and country. The results indicate that there is a high variability of forest loss rates among countries and forest types. In general, Chile and Argentina presented the highest deforestation rates (−3.28 and −2.31 yearly average, respectively), followed by Ecuador and Paraguay (−2.19 and −1.89 yearly average, respectively). Atlantic forests (−1.62) and tropical montane forests (−1.55) presented the highest deforestation rates for the region. In particular, tropical lowland forests in Ecuador (−2.42) and tropical dry forests in Mexico (−2.88) and Argentina (−2.20) were the most affected. In most countries, the access to markets and agricultural and forest activities are the main causes of deforestation; however, the causes vary according to the forest types. Deforestation measurements focused at different scales and on different forest types will help governments to improve their reports for international initiatives, such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) but, more importantly, for developing local policies for the sustainable management of forests and for reducing the deforestation in Latin America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-147
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Causes
  • Deforestation rates
  • Factors
  • Forest loss
  • Tropical deforestation


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