Forests and fisheries in the Brazilian Amazon: Understanding incentives to comply with conservation efforts
Schons, Stella Zucchetti
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This PhD dissertation represents an effort to understand individual behavior leading to decisions regarding natural resource use and compliance with conservation policy at the government and at the community levels through the analysis of specific cases in the Brazilian Amazon. I first analyze the case of smallholder land clearing along the Transamazon and BR-163 highways in the face of Brazilian Forest Code enforcement by the federal government. My hypothesis is that smallholder land clearing paths over time are affected by assessments of the probability of being caught violating the Forest Code. I develop a dynamic decision model that considers the potential benefits and costs accrued from land clearing through time by a representative smallholder and include her perception of the probability of Forest Code enforcement, unobserved to the researcher. I apply an endogenous switching regressions econometric model to data collected with a sample of 542 households in 2003 and 2013/14. I find that longer land tenure frontiers where there are opportunities for smallholders to transition to cattle grazing from agriculture deserve the attention of enforcement of land clearing laws and restrictions and that the use of the forest by a smallholder is a protective signal that must be considered and encouraged. My results suggest that alleged government efforts to enforce the Forest Code among smallholders in the sample region have been ineffective. The second case I analyze is that of fisher households that enforce community fishing agreements, known as accords, in the floodplains of the Amazon River surrounding the city of Santarém. My hypothesis is that individual households benefit from their own fishing accords enforcement effort through fishing time savings. A factor demand analysis applied to data collected with over 600 households reveals that statistically important drivers of labor demand and fuel include the level of dedication of a household and its history in implementing fishing accords, the landscape, the flood cycle, the distance to the main regional market and biomass. The average household fishing time savings from enforcing accords range between 59 and 36 eight-hour days for a six-month-period, an important argument for continuing the enterprise.
- Doctoral Dissertations