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Tag: political economy

Evaluating REDD+ at Subnational Level: Amazon Fund impacts in Alta Floresta, Brazil

Juliano Correa, Elias Cisneros, Jan Borner, Alexander Pfaff, Marcelo Costa, Raoni Rajao
Forest Policy and Economics 116:102178

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The Amazon Fund is the world’s largest program to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), funded with over US $1b donated by Norway and Germany between 2008 and 2017 to reward Brazil for prior deforestation reductions. Olhos D’Água da Amazônia is cited as a leading project success − with over one thousand small-to-medium-sized crop and livestock producers in the municipality of Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso State receiving more from the Amazon Fund than all but two other municipalities. To secure property rights, aid environmental planning, and raise farmers’ productivity and output diversity, the project helped farmers register in Brazil’s environmental cadaster and receive property certificates. Furthermore, Olhos D’Água supported milk and honey production and paid farmers to conserve riverine forest sites. We estimate causal effects of Olhos D’Água, versus a counterfactual estimate of what would have happened without the project, using a synthetic-control method. We build from the pool of blacklisted municipalities weighted averages (synthetic controls) that best match pre-treatment outcomes for Alta Floresta. Project effects are estimated as post-treatment differences between Alta Floresta and the synthetic controls. We find that the project increased new CAR registrations, and INCRA certifications, and may have moderately increased honey and milk production. Alta Floresta’s annual forest losses remained historically low but we find no clear causal effect of the project on deforestation rates. Our results support that rigorous impact evaluation can motivate and guide project improvements.

 

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Investing in local capacity to respond to a federal environmental mandate: forest & economic impacts of the Green Municipality Program in the Brazilian Amazon

Erin Sills, Alexander Pfaff, Luiza Andrade, Justin Kirkpatrick, Rebecca Dickson
World Development 129:104891 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.104891

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Over the past decade, the Brazilian federal government has offered a negative collective incentive to reduce deforestation by ‘blacklisting’ the municipalities in the Amazon with the highest deforestation rates. As for any unfunded mandate, the responses to blacklisting depend on both local incentives and local capacities. We evaluate a state program — Programa Municípios Verdes (PMV) or the Green Municipality Program — to increase the capacity of municipal governments in the state of Pará to respond to this federal incentive. The PMV is voluntary, as municipal governments choose whether to participate. To control for differences due to self-selection into the program, we employ quasi-experimental methods: two-way, fixed-effects regressions in matched samples of municipalities; and the synthetic control method that compares outcomes in a participating municipality to outcomes in a weighted blend of control municipalities. Neither approach suggests that the PMV reduced deforestation beyond the effect of the blacklist. We hypothesize that municipalities joined the PMV to ameliorate the costs of complying with blacklist requirements, including the costs of exiting the blacklist. We show that the PMV increased total value added – with substantial heterogeneity – in participating blacklisted municipalities, and that these gains likely are not due to agricultural intensification. They may result from reductions in compliance risk and cost that make economic investments in a municipality more appealing. In the long run, this could make forest conservation more socially and politically sustainable.

 

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Impacts of protected areas vary with the level of government: comparing avoided deforestation across agencies in the Brazilian Amazon

Diego Herrera, Alexander Pfaff, Juan Robalino
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1802877116

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Protected areas (PAs) are the leading tools to conserve forests. However, given their mixed effectiveness, we want to know when they have impacts internally and, if they do, when they have spillovers. Political economy posits roles for the level of government. One hypothesis is that federal PAs avoid more internal deforestation than state PAs since federal agencies consider gains for other jurisdictions. Such political differences as well as economic mechanisms can cause PA spillovers to vary greatly, even from “leakage,” more deforestation elsewhere, to “blockage,” less deforestation elsewhere. We examine internal impacts and local spillovers for Brazilian Amazon federal and state agencies. Outside the region’s “arc of deforestation,” we confirm little internal impact and show no spillovers. In the “arc,” we test impacts by state, as states are large and feature considerably different dynamics. For internal impacts, estimates for federal PAs and indigenous lands are higher than for state PAs. For local spillover impacts, estimates for most arc states either are not significant or are not robust; however, for Pará, federal PAs and indigenous lands feature both internal impacts and local spillovers. Yet, the spillovers in Pará go in opposite directions across agencies, leakage for indigenous lands but blockage for federal PAs, suggesting a stronger external signal from the environmental agency. Across all these tools, only federal PAs lower deforestation internally and nearby. Results suggest that agencies’ objectives and capacities are critical parts of the contexts for conservation strategies.

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