Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2002-2004)


ASB contributed to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) with a cross-cutting assessment of "Forest and Agroecosystem Tradeoffs in the Tropics". The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is an extensive study of the state of the world's major ecosystems, including forests, grasslands, rivers and lakes, farmlands, and oceans.

The Tropical Forest Margins sub-global assessment (SGA) was the first crosscutting SGA in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). It draws on ten years of research from the benchmark sites of the ASB-Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins. The sites are located in ecoregions in the Peruvian Amazon, the western Amazon of Brazil, an associated site in the eastern Amazon of Brazil, the Congo Basin of Cameroon, northern Thailand, and the islands of Sumatra in Indonesia and Mindanao in the Philippines. The assessment focuses on the landscape mosaics (comprising both forests and agriculture) where global environmental problems and poverty coincide at the margins of the remaining humid tropical forests.

This assessment considered the impact of all drivers of deforestation and environmental degradation in the forest margins. Drivers of deforestation include not only migrant smallholders, who practice slash- and-burn agriculture, but also plantation owners, other medium- and large-scale farmers, ranchers, loggers and state-run enterprises and projects.

ASB's full contribution to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is available at at the Millennium Assessment website

Results of this research

The research shows that striking an equitable balance between the legitimate interests of development and equally legitimate global concerns over the environmental consequences of tropical deforestation is difficult. Poverty reduction in most of the tropics depends on finding ways to raise productivity of labor and land through intensification of smallholder production systems. Although there may be opportunities to alleviate poverty while conserving tropical rainforests, it is naïve to expect that productivity increases necessarily slow forest conversion or improves the environment. Deforestation has no single cause but is the outcome of a complex web of factors whose mix varies greatly in time and space. Understanding the factors at work in a given situation is a crucial first step if policymakers are to introduce effective measures to curb deforestation, and to do so in ways that reduce poverty.

Donor credits

Funding for this work was provided by the Government of the Netherlands, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

This project was active from 2002-2004.


Related  Publications

  • Life on the Edge: An assessment of ecosystem health and human wellbeing on the margins of the world's tropical rainforests (2005) (Download PDF)
  • Forest and Agroecosystem Tradeoffs in the Humid Tropics: A Crosscutting assessment by the Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn consortium (ASB) conducted as a sub-global component of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. (Download PDF)
  • Workshop on Scaling up the ASB Millennium Ecosystem Goods Assessment. Nairobi, 4th - 7th October 2004. (Download proceedings)
  • Poster: Forest and Agroecosystem Tradeoffs in the Tropics: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)- ASB's Contribution. 2003.  (Download PDF)



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