The urban-rural interface: Urbanization and tropical forest cover change
A considerable body of empirical and theoretical literature on the causes of tropical deforestation has emerged over the last twenty years. Recognizing that small-farmers in the Amazon Basin are a key agent in the process of primary forest conversion, a growing genre of studies at the household level have attempted to quantify the influence of various factors on small-farmer land-use decisions. Many of these studies have acknowledged the seeming importance of urban centers as hubs of propulsive activity and information, yet none have comprehensively captured the “urbanization factor” in rural land use decisions. I argue that this methodological shortcoming in empirical work to-date reflects an inadequate conceptualization of the range of urban-based networks and their inter-relationships. In an effort to overcome this roadblock to further empirical discovery, I review several leading schools of thought that might be pressed into service in developing a framework for interpreting the urban influences on rural landscapes. I call this construct the “Urban-Rural Interface.” This is not a complete theoretical model or a unique methodology, but rather an initial effort to develop a general framework from which more sophisticated formulations might proceed.