Almost all the forest in the Dominican Republic was cleared in the twentieth century, first by logging companies, until the sawmills were closed in 1967, and then by slash-and-burn agriculture. This paper examined the underlying socio-economic causes of the relentless deforestation, identifying several key factors: population growth, a strong urban bias in government investment, inappropriate, inadequate and confused agricultural and forestry policy, and an extremely inequitable distribution of land. Only 50 % of rural people owned land and 40 % lived below the poverty line. Meanwhile the government undervalued the contribution of forests to the national economy and failed to provide policies that would encourage rural people to maintain trees.
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