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Tag: protected areas

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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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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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

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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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Evaluating the impacts of protected areas on human well-being across the developing world

Robin Naidoo, Drew Gerkey, David Hole, Alexander Pfaff, Alicia Ellis, Chris Golden, Diego Herrera, Kiersten Johnson, Mark Mulligan, Taylor Ricketts, Brendan Fisher
Science Advances 5:eaav3006

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Protected areas (PAs) are fundamental for biodiversity conservation, yet their impacts on nearby residents are contested. We synthesized environmental and socioeconomic conditions of >87,000 children in >60,000 households situated either near or far from >600 PAs within 34 developing countries. We used quasi-experimental hierarchical regression to isolate the impact of living near a PA on several aspects of human well-being. Households near PAs with tourism also had higher wealth levels (by 17%) and a lower likelihood of poverty (by 16%) than similar households living far from PAs. Children under 5 years old living nearmultiple-use PAs with tourism also had higher height-for-age scores (by 10%) and were less likely to be stunted (by 13%) than similar children living far from PAs. For the largest and most comprehensive socioeconomic-environmental dataset yet assembled, we found no evidence of negative PA impacts and consistent statistical evidence to suggest PAs can positively affect human well-being.

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Impacts of Certification, Uncertified Concessions, Hunting Zones and Protected Areas on Forest Loss in Cameroon, 2000 to 2013

Stephanie Panlasigui, Jimena Rico-Straffon, Alexander Pfaff, Jennifer Swenson, Colby Loucks
Biological Conservation 227:160-166

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Deforestation and forest fragmentation are leading drivers of biodiversity loss. Protected areas have been the leading conservation policy response, yet their scale and scope remain inadequate to meet biodiversity conservation targets. Managed forest concessions increasingly have been recognized as a complement to protected areas in meeting conservation targets. Similarly, programs for voluntary third-party certification of concession management aim to create incentives for logging companies to manage forests more sustainably. Rigorous evidence on the impacts from large-scale certification programs is thereby critical, yet detailed field observations are limited, temporally and spatially. Remotely-sensed data, in contrast, can provide repeated observations over time and at a fine spatial scale, albeit with less detail. Using the Global Forest Change dataset, we examine annual forest loss in Cameroon during 2000–2013 to assess the impact of Forest Stewardship Council certification, as well as uncertified logging concessions and national parks. We use panel regressions that control for the effects of unobserved factors that vary across space or time. We find low forest loss inside the boundaries of each management intervention, with < 1% lost over the study period. Yet those low levels of loss appear to be influenced more by a site’s proximity to drivers of deforestation, such as distances to population centers or roads, than by national parks, uncertified concessions, or certification. The exception is that if a site faces high deforestation pressure, uncertified logging concessions appear to reduce forest loss. This may reflect private companies’ incentives to protect rights to forest use. Such an influence of private logging companies could provide a foundation for future impacts from certification upon rates of forest loss, at least within areas that are facing elevated deforestation pressures.

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Land-use and land-cover change shape the sustainability and impacts of protected areas

Anteneh Tesfaw, Alexander Pfaff, Rachel E. Golden Kroner, Siyu Qin, Rodrigo Medeiros and Michael B. Mascia
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115(9):2084-2089

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Protected areas (PAs) remain the dominant policy to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services but have been shown to have limited impact when development interests force them to locations with lower deforestation pressure. Far less known is that such interests also cause widespread tempering, reduction, or removal of protection [i.e., PA downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement (PADDD)]. We inform responses to PADDD by proposing and testing a bargaining explanation for PADDD risks and deforestation impacts. We examine recent degazettements for hydropower development and rural settlements in the state of Rondônia in the Brazilian Amazon. Results support two hypotheses: (i) ineffective PAs (i.e., those where internal deforestation was similar to nearby rates) were more likely to be degazetted and (ii) degazettement of ineffective PAs caused limited, if any, additional deforestation. We also report on cases in which ineffective portions were upgraded. Overall our results suggest that enhancing PAs’ ecological impacts enhances their legal durability.

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