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David Bricker
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Long-term study of humans and deforestation in Amazon Basin gets new support

A long-term study of human population and deforestation in the dwindling Amazon rainforest, conducted by anthropologist Emilio Moran and his colleagues at Indiana University Bloomington, is continuing with the support of a new $1.63 million, four-year grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Among its goals, the comprehensive study of 952 households will determine how farming strategies change with each generation and how human characteristics such as age, gender, education, and the use of financial credit influence rates of deforestation in the Amazon Basin.

"How quickly second and third generations learn to conserve forests on their land is of critical importance in predicting how much rainforest will remain standing," said Moran, James H. Rudy Professor of Anthropology and director of the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change. "What we'd like to know is, does the next generation of farmers and workers have a less steep learning curve? The answer to this question will be extremely useful to local people as well as Brazilian policy makers and educators."

The new study represents phase two of a long-term study for which Moran and his team have already surveyed 402 households and 3,800 square kilometers of land along the Brazilian Amazon frontier. In a previous study, Moran and colleagues showed that some characteristics of first-generation farmers and workers are indeed related to higher or lower rates of deforestation. This second phase of the project will follow children and grandchildren of the previously studied frontier settlers.

In addition, Moran was selected in May to serve on a National Institutes of Health advisory committee whose members -- experts in the social sciences, nursing and epidemiology -- evaluate NIH grants. His four-year term will begin July 1.