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Is There a Future for the Amazon? From Eco Catastrophe to Zero Deforestation and Back

Susanna Hecht, Professor, Luskin School of Public Affairs and Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA

Mar 8 2021 | 11:00am to 12:00pm PST Online

Susanna Hecht leans against a large tree trunk

Dr. Susanna Hecht focuses on the intersections of economies, cultures, and land use. She has worked on a wide array of projects ranging from the development of non timber forest products to the impacts of migration on land use. Come listen to an exciting interdisciplinary talk that explores the decrease and subsequent rise of forest loss in the Amazon over the last two decades!
— Albert Garcia, Bren PhD Student


This talk explores the rather startling process by which Amazonian deforestation dropped by 80% during the period of 2004-2014, and what happened to stimulate a new round of forest loss and ecosystem destruction. This lecture focuses on how political and institutional structures shifted, but also examines the dynamics of leakage, the commodity consensus, clandestine economies, new forms of finance and the "Amazon card" in the calculus of the "Flailing state, flailing development" processes as Amazonian commodities move massively into new Asian EU and Middle Eastern markets. This transformation comes at the price of climate instability, toxification of waters, enhanced vulnerability of landscapes to fire, precarious urbanization and a possible biome tipping point. This Amazonian "great acceleration" may have some breaks and some brakes which we discuss, and some larger scale rethinks in terms of bioeconomies, resilience and the longer term questions of new adaptations.


Dr. Susanna Hecht is Professor  at the Luskin School of Public Affairs and Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA and Professor of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute for Development Studies in Geneva. Author of several award winning books, she has been working in  Amazonia for more than 30 years. Her work has been supported by NASA, NSF, the World Bank, many NGOS and numerous prestigious fellowships including MacArthur, ACLS, Hewlitt, Guggenheim, Ford among many others. She is currently writing a book on the current Amazon, the latest volume in a trilogy that includes Scramble for the Amazon, Fate of the Forest, and this volume, This Side of Paradise. 

Watch a recording of the talk here.

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