Economic Development and Environmental Protection in Latin America

By Joseph S. Tulchin | Go to book overview

8
Commentary

Marc J. Dourojeanni

If we are interested in obtaining goods and providing services through the continued use of the tropical forests, we are speaking of the management of these forests.This can take many forms, including management for biodiversity, for wood, for nonwood products, for tourism, and for wildlife. There is an enormous range of options; nevertheless, management means the manipulation of resources. Even if policy is directed toward keeping the forests, they will not be left untouched.

One of the external factors that affects tropical forests is migration. The people who migrated to the Amazon did so due to a lack of development in the areas in which they lived.Since the days of the conquest, the high Andes were believed to have no value—the high mountains were saturated with population and their carrying capacity had been exceeded; therefore nothing could be done there.As a result of the spread of this message, the population began to migrate to the coast (in the case of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia), to the big cities, or to the Amazon.

In Brazil, the northeast is viewed in similar fashion.But the true development potential of the Andes or the Brazilian northeast is great. This development could prevent further migration to the Amazon and the cities.The key factor is that the Amazon is directly affected by outside events.It is time to recognize that the Andes, the northeast region of Brazil, and many other regions surrounding the Amazon have a tremendous capacity to support a vibrant population.The much-needed development will require investment. In Peru, for example, more than 90 percent of all investment was devoted to coastal desert irrigation and some roadmaking in the Amazon.No investment was directed toward the Andes, where some 60 percent of the population lives.The Amazon is now paying the price.

Another issue that deserves further attention is education. The

____________________
Marc J. Dourojeanni is chief of the Environmental Division of the Inter-American Development Bank.

-61-

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