A delicate balance in Amazonia
First paragraph: INTHEIR LETTERâ??DEFORESTATIONINAMAZONIAâ??? (21 May 2004, p. 1109), W. F. Laurance et al. cogently summarize the threats that roads and other infrastructure development projects pose to Amazonian forests. However, their implicit suggestion that the best way to prevent forest loss is by halting these projects ignores important political and social constraints faced by the region (1), as well as evidence that land-use patterns can change when viable alternatives to deforestation are presented (2). There is no doubt that roads and other infrastructure projects are conduits for agents of forest loss. However, they also provide important benef its, such as access to markets without which community-based timber management, the extraction of nontimber forest products, and other strategies for slowing deforestation advocated by the conservation community would not be economically viable.
First paragraph of response: BRUNA AND KAINER IMPLY THAT BRAZIL'S Amazonian road building could help to promote â??community-based timber management, the extraction of nontimber forest products, and other strategies advocated for slowing deforestation.â??? Our collective experience in Amazonia over the past quarter century suggests otherwise. Although their optimistic view may apply in a few, rather rare situations, it seems entirely foreign to the major hotbeds of deforestation.