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Actor-specific contributions to the deforestation slowdown in the Brazilian Amazon

Actor-specific contributions to the deforestation slowdown in the Brazilian Amazon

Annual deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon fell by 77% between 2004 and 2011, yet have stabilized since 2009 at 5,000–7,000 km2. We provide the first submunicipality assessment, to our knowledge, of actor-specific contributions to the deforestation slowdown by linking agricultural census and remote-sensing data on deforestation and forest degradation. Almost half (36,158 km2) of the deforestation between 2004 and 2011 occurred in areas dominated by larger properties (>500 ha), whereas only 12% (9,720 km2) occurred in areas dominated by smallholder properties (<100 ha). In addition, forests in areas dominated by smallholders tend to be less fragmented and less degraded. However, although annual deforestation rates fell during this period by 68–85% for all actors, the contribution of the largest landholders (>2,500 ha) to annual deforestation decreased over time (63% decrease between 2005 and 2011), whereas that of smallholders went up by a similar amount (69%) during the same period. In addition, the deforestation share attributable to remote areas increased by 88% between 2009 and 2011. These observations are consistent across the Brazilian Amazon, regardless of geographical differences in actor dominance or socioenvironmental context. Our findings suggest that deforestation policies to date, which have been particularly focused on command and control measures on larger properties in deforestation hotspots, may be increasingly limited in their effectiveness and fail to address all actors equally. Further reductions in deforestation are likely to be increasingly costly and require actor-tailored approaches, including better monitoring to detect small-scale deforestation and a shift toward more incentive-based conservation policies.

Authors: Godar, J.; Gardner, T.; Tizado, J.; Pacheco, P.

Topic: deforestation,agricultural sector,remote sensing,forests,degradation,smallholders,payments for environmental services,biodiversity,mitigation,land use change

Geographic: Brazil,Amazon

Publication Year: 2014

ISSN: 1091-6490

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 111(43): 15591–15596

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1322825111

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