The past 20 years has been a period of intensive statistical investigation into the causes of tropical deforestation, with the work of Allen and Barnes1 commonly referred to as the article that kicked-off this effort. Yet there is surprisingly limited convergence on the basic question: “what drives deforestation?” There are a number of reasons for
this. First, the simple fact is that the answer to this question is context specific-it is not the same constellation of factors that can explain deforestation across the tropics. Second, one can expect some researcher bias, in the sense that the answers provided reflect the researchers’ background: geographical focus, discipline, political view, and so forth. Third, the variables included have differed greatly-often determined by whatever data are easily available. These factors have lead to different and even contradictory deforestation stories being told. One way toward a consensus would be better and more integrated and holistic methodologies. This book makes the case for the need and role for spatially integrated models of coupled natural and human systems in the contexts of study and management of land use.