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Beyond proximate and distal causes of land-use change: linking Individual motivations to deforestation in rural contexts

Ximena Rueda, School of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
Maria Alejandra Velez, School of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
Lina Moros, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), Universitat Autňnoma de Barcelona; School of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
Luz Angela Rodriguez, School of Environmental and Rural Studies, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10617-240104

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Abstract

Most of the literature on the causes of tropical deforestation has focused on the proximate and distal causes. However, research exploring the psychological drivers of deforestation, i.e., motivations, is still scant despite being crucial to understand the processes of land-use change and individual decision making within social-ecological systems. We studied the combined effect of structural and individual causes of deforestation, with particular emphasis on motivations, for a sample of rural households in Colombia’s foremost tropical deforestation frontier. We implemented a new instrument based on self-determination theory to measure five different types of motivations to protect the forests: intrinsic, guilt/regret, social, extrinsic motivations, and amotivation (lack of motivation). Our findings show that, controlling for the structural and household drivers widely identified in the deforestation literature, intrinsic motivations positively correlate with less self-reported deforestation. Also, amotivated people and those with extrinsic motives, such as expected payments for conservation, are more likely to deforest. Our results show that motivations can explain variation in land-use decisions and thus should be considered when designing, implementing, and evaluating conservation policies aiming to halt deforestation.

Key words

agricultural expansion; Colombia; deforestation frontier; land-use change; motivations

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087