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Migration, Remittances, and Forest Cover Change in Rural Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico

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School of Economics and Business, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, 1432 Ås, Norway
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Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1116, Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway
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African Development Bank (AfDB), Microeconomic, Institutional & Development Impact Division, Abidjan 01, Ivory Coast
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Centro de Estudios Ambientales y Biodiversidad, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala 01015, Guatemala
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Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Denver, Boettcher Center West, 2050 E. Iliff Ave. Denver, CO 80208, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 January 2020 / Revised: 10 March 2020 / Accepted: 11 March 2020 / Published: 17 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration and Land)
This article investigates how migration and remittances affect forest cover in eight rural communities in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico. Based on household surveys and remote sensing data, we found little evidence to support the widespread claim that migration takes pressure off forests. In the Chiapas sites, we observed no significant changes in forest cover since 1990, while in the Guatemalan sites, migration may have increased demand for agricultural land, leading to an average annual forest loss of 0.73% during the first decade of the millennium. We suggest that when attractive opportunities exist to invest in agriculture and land expansion, remittances and returnee savings provide fresh capital that is likely to increase pressure on forests. Our study also has implications for the understanding of migration flows; in particular, migration has not implied an exodus out of agriculture for the remaining household members nor for the returning migrants. On the contrary, returning migrants are more likely to be involved in farming activities after their return than they were before leaving. View Full-Text
Keywords: remittances; forest transition; agriculture remittances; forest transition; agriculture
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MDPI and ACS Style

Angelsen, A.; Aguilar-Støen, M.; Ainembabazi, J.H.; Castellanos, E.; Taylor, M. Migration, Remittances, and Forest Cover Change in Rural Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico. Land 2020, 9, 88.

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