Deforestation Restrictions: Observations from Acre, Brazil

by Lazaros M. K. Chalkias

In light of climate change and species conservation efforts, “Reductions in Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD) is becoming an increasingly important mechanism in conservation policy. Deforestation may affect water quality, forest services and local economies; its impact, as Pfaff et al. (2014) explore, depends on governance and location of protected forest areas. The researchers’ work focuses on the forests of Acre, Brazil, which includes over 1 million hectares of protected areas. They evaluated deforestation in the periods of 2000–2004 and 2004–2008, and separated the protected forest areas in question in three categories (sustainable use, indigenous and integral). They used “remotely sensed pixel data” from the INPE (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais) to examine covered and cleared forestland and understand the potential effects of policy in a region.

Among other considerations, “protection of forests” involves the selection of an area, creation of a legal framework for conservation and complete management of the region, including monitoring technology implementation, creation of framework enforcement capacity and sustainable use of natural resources. Under law, a protected area is created following scientific studies and public consultations to taking into consideration and type of protection and its boundaries. Researchers focused on governance differences, since “sustainable use” usually targets populated areas, with higher threats to the forest and “integral protection” covers areas with few people. To avoid errors in the calculations, they only compared similar land using a “matching” approach instead of comparing total of forest and uncovered land.

Interestingly, between 2004 and 2008, the rates of deforestation fall for unprotected and for integral and indigenous protection, while they rise for locations of “sustainable use,” making them face a higher threat. As a result, forest clearing prevented by such areas is also higher. Integral areas generally were found to have the lower rates. Areas declared protected before 2000 seem to be farther away from roads than unprotected but no differences in distances from cities or forest boundaries. The authors noted that restrictions on resource extraction are important, but enforcement efforts are still not successful; property-rights changes, on the other hand may affect monitoring and create negative results. They found that the approval of a local community for a protected area leads to higher monitor and accountability, thus making the process more successful and easy to implement. They concluded that less restrictive governance allows for deforestation, but produces a more successful outcome that classic strict protection. Some of these conclusions will hopefully be essential in the evaluation of resource allocation for REDD and determination of policy for deforestation control.

Pfaff, A., Robalino, J., Lima, E., Sandoval, C., Herrera, L., 2014. Governance, Location and Avoided Deforestation from Protected Areas: Greater Restrictions Can Have Lower Impact, Due to Differences in Location. World Development 55, 7-20.


TAGS: Pfaff, Robalino, Lima, Sandoval, Herrera, Governance, Location Deforestation, Protected Areas, REDD, Degrading, Matching, Sustainable Use, Integral Protection, Native Use


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s