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Category: 2021

The Brazilian intergovernmental fiscal transfer for conservation: a successful but self-limiting incentive program

Patricia G.C. Ruggiero, Alexander Pfaff, Paula Pereda, Elizabeth Nicholas, Jean Paul Metzger
Ecological Economics 191 (2021)

Brazil’s ecological intergovernmental fiscal transfer (ICMS-E) is a conservation incentive for protected areas (PAs). It redistributes tax revenues to reward municipalities for hosting PAs. To quantify its impact on the creation of state and municipal PAs, we used panel regressions on a longitudinal municipality dataset that combined information on PA creation and ICMS-E implementation for the 1467 municipalities in 6 Brazilian states in the Atlantic Forest region that never changed borders, from 1987 to 2016. We found that the percent of the municipal area covered with state or municipal PAs increased as a consequence of ICMS-E implementation. However, the magnitude of this effect declined as the ICMS-E revenue is shared more widely due to the expansion of PAs that reduced the gain from new PAs. We also found that ICMS-E policy primarily spurred the creation of PAs with less restrictive rules – similar to IUCN category V reserves – mainly by municipalities. For more restrictive PAs with higher local costs for municipalities, ICMS-E promoted state-proposed PAs but not municipal PAs. Our results suggest that states used ICMS-E to incentivize local implementation of their conservation preferences, including strict conservation, while municipal governments responded mostly with low-cost actions to increase their revenues.

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Can we increase the impacts from payments for ecosystem services? Impact rose over time in Costa Rica, yet spatial variation indicates more potential

Juan Robalino, Alexander Pfaff, Catalina Sandoval, G. Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa
Forest Policy and Economics 132 (2021)

As programs with payments for ecosystem services (PES) have become more numerous, raising the need for and also the opportunity for rigorous evidence on their contributions, we examine shifts within Costa Rica’s Pagos por Servicios Ambientales (PSA) program. The PSA was heralded from its initiation, despite demonstrations of low early impacts. We study shifts in impact over time across early periods and whether further adjustments could raise contributions. Looking over time, we find that PSA contracts signed for the 2000–2005 period had higher impacts than contracts for the program’s initial time period, 1997–1999 found in previous research. Looking over space, we find that PSA payments have higher impacts for lower slopes and lower market distances. Linking these results, the rise in impact for 2000–2005 occurred alongside a shift in the targeting of PSA, which was along ecological dimensions (limiting effects of owners offering unprofitable lands). Yet the spatial variations in impacts we document suggest that explicitly targeting impact offers the potential to further raise PES impacts in Costa Rica, as well as in other nations.

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Leaders’ distributional & efficiency effects in collective responses to policy: Lab-in-field experiments with small-scale gold miners in Colombia

Luz A. Rodriguez, Maria Alejandra Velez, Alexander Pfaff
World Development 147 (2021)

Globally, small-scale gold mining (SSGM) is an important economic option for many rural poor. It involves local uses of shared resources, like common-pool contexts for which self-governance has avoided ‘tragedies of the commons’. Yet even ideal local governance of SSGM is not societally efficient given non-local damages that suggest external interventions for desired shifts. Because transactions costs are high for rewarding reductions in damages on remote mining frontiers, states could gain if rewards based on low-cost, group compliance measures could successfully induce cooperation in response to policy. However, as group-level rewards invite free-riding, such success requires local collective action. Since that guarantees neither efficient coordination nor equitable distributions of net benefits from compliance, we consider the impacts of emergent leaders on local responses to external policy. We employ framed lab experiments with 200 small-scale gold miners in Colombia’s Pacific to explore leaders’ impacts on equity and efficiency in collective responses to external incentives. Allowing communication before individual choice, which raises efficiency but not always equity, we can identify emergent leaders of groups’ communications. Leaders raise compliance and affect how its costs are distributed, suggesting access to leadership roles matters.

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Election cycles affect deforestation within Brazil’s Atlantic Forest

Patricia G.C. Ruggiero, Alexander Pfaff, Elizabeth Nicholas, Marcos Rosa, Jean Paul Metzger
Conservation Letters (2021)

Policymakers’ incentives during election campaigns can lead to decisions that significantly affect deforestation. Yet this is rarely studied. For Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, a highly biodiverse tropical forest, we link federal-and-state as well as municipal elections to annual deforestation between 1991 and 2014. Across 2253 municipalities, those with higher deforestation see a significant rise in deforestation during federal-and-state election years. Municipal election years raise deforestation for locations with lower deforestation, whereas all of these increases are accentuated when there is party alignment between different levels of government. This effect of election cycles has fallen over time, to date, yet that cannot be assumed to continue. Our results highlight the need to limit opportunistic behaviors that affect natural resources and the environment with implications for biodiversity, carbon storage, and other ecosystem services.


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