Smallholder Fire Prevention and Burning Activities Under the Threat of Accidental Fire: A Household Model Application from the Tapajós National Forest in the State of Pará, Brazil

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Virginia Tech


Land-clearing fires set by settlers in the Brazilian Amazon give rise to large scale wildfires that threaten mature forests, agricultural plantations, and settlement areas. Our purpose is to examine labor devoted to fire prevention (firebreak establishment) and burning for crop production for subsistence smallholders in the Tapajós National Forest in Pará, Brazil. Both the decision to engage in each activity and the scale of the activity are examined. A household model addressing decision-making under risk is estimated using survey data from 220 households. We find economic variables such as the opportunity cost of household time, market conditions, and the hiring wage to be important predictors of both decisions (often these are more important than household or demographic considerations), as is household reliance on standing forest resources for non-timber products. We also find that the involvement of NGOs and the government plays an important role in encouraging fire prevention behavior. Our results provide support for programs that emphasize economic parameters and for considering smallholder productivity in policies that target accidental fire prevention or reduction in burning activity.



slash-and-burn agriculture, household model, Floresta Nacional do Tapajós, Brazilian Amazon, fire prevention