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Category: 2022

Does the Selective Erasure of Protected Areas Raise Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon?

Derya Keles, Alexander Pfaff, Michael B. Mascia
Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (2022)

Protected areas (PAs) are the leading policy to lower deforestation. Yet resistance by land users leads PAs to be created in remote sites, lowering impact. Resistance continues after PA creation, with both illegal deforestation and advocacy for PADDD, that is, reducing PA status (downgrading) or PA size (partial or full erasure, downsizing or degazettement). For the Brazilian Amazon, we estimate 2010–15 forest impacts of 2009–12 PA erasures, on average and for distinct states. Before panel-DID regression, to find similar controls we matched using static characteristics and 8–10 years of pretreatment deforestation. PA erasures should raise deforestation if erased PAs faced and blocked pressures. Consistent with this, three conditions for “environmental selection” yielded little short-run impact from PADDD: low pressures, unblocked higher pressures, and pressures blocked less by those PAs selected for erasures. Yet for “development selection,” with PA erasures in sites with pressures plus enforcement, PADDD yielded increased deforestation.


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Environmental Policies Benefit Economic Development: Implications of Economic Geography

Seth Morgan, Alexander Pfaff, Julien Wolfersberger
Annual Review of Resource Economists (2022)

For over a century, starting with the work of Alfred Marshall (and also in resource economics), economic geography has emphasized the productivity of dense urban agglomerations. Yet little attention is paid to one key policy implication of economic geography’s core mechanisms: Environmental policies can aid economic development, per se—not hurting the economy to help the environment but advancing both objectives.We review mechanisms from economic geography that imply that environmental policies can deliver such win-wins: influences upon agglomeration of long-tanding natural conditions, like usable bays, which long were perceived as fixed yet now are being shifted by global environmental quality; agglomeration’s effects on other influential conditions, like urban environmental quality; and the effects of rural environmental quality on the flows to cities of people and environmental quality. Finally, we consider a geographic policy typology in asking why society leaves money on the table by failing to promote environmental policies despite the potential win-wins that we highlight.


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