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Category: Secondary Data

Forest Concessions and Eco-Certifications in the Peruvian Amazon: deforestation impacts of logging rights and logging restrictions

Jimena Rico-Straffon, Zhenhua Wang, Stephanie Panlasigui, Colby J. Loucks, Jennifer Swenson, Alexander Pfaff
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 118 (2023)

Concessions that grant logging rights to firms support economic development based on forest resources. Eco-certifications put sustainability restrictions on the operations of those concessions. For spatially detailed data, including many pre-treatment years, we use new difference-indifferences estimators to estimate 2002–2018 impacts upon Peruvian Amazon forests from both logging concessions and their eco-certifications. We find that the concessions — which in theory could raise or reduce forest loss — did not raise loss, if anything reducing it slightly by warding off spikes in deforestation pressure. Eco-certifications could reduce or raise forest loss, yet we find no significant impacts.


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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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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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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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What Drives the Erasure of Protected Areas? Evidence from across the Brazilian Amazon

Derya Keles, Philippe Delacote, Alexander Pfaff, Siyu Qin, Michael B. Mascia
Ecological Economics 176 (2020) 106733

Protected areas (PAs) are a widely used strategy for conserving forests and ecosystem services. When PAs succeed in deterring economic activities that degrade forests, the impacts include more forest yet less economic gain. These economic opportunity costs of conservation lead actors with economic interests to resist new PAs, driving their sites away from profitable market centers and towards areas featuring lower opportunity costs. Further, after PAs are created, economic actors may want PA downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement (collectively PADDD). We examine reductions in PAs’ spatial extent – downsizings (partial erasures) and degazettements (complete erasures) − that presumably reduce protection. Using data for the entire Brazilian Amazon from, our empirical analyses explore whether size reductions from 2006 to 2015 resulted from bargaining between development and conservation. We find that the risks of PA size reductions are raised by: lower travel costs (as implied by distances to roads and cities), which affect economic gains and enforcement; greater PA size, which affects enforcement; and more prior internal deforestation, which lowers the impacts of size reductions. These dynamics of protection offer insights on the potentially conflicting factors that lead to PA size reductions, with implications for policymaking to enhance PA effectiveness and permanence.


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