The Effects of Land Use Regulation on Deforestation:

Apr 2016 | 172

Authors: Lina O Anderson, Samantha De Martino, Torfinn Harding, Karlygash Kuralbayeva, Andre Lima

To reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon, Brazil established in the period 2004-2010 conservation zones covering an area 1.5 times the size of Germany. In the same period, Brazil experienced a large reduction in deforestation rates. By combining satellite data on deforestation with data on the location and timing of the conservation zones, we provide spatial regression discontinuity estimates and difference-in-difference estimates indicating that the policy cannot explain the large reduction in deforestation rates. The reason is that the zones are located in areas where agricultural production is likely to be unprofitable. We also provide evidence that zones reduce deforestation if the incentives for municipalities to reduce deforestation are high. We rationalize these finding with a spatial economics model of land use, with endogenous location of conservation zones and imperfect enforcement. Our findings point to the need for other explanations than the conservation zones to explain the sharp decline in deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon since 2004.

JEL Codes: Q28, Q58, R11, R14

Keywords: regulation, conservation policies, deforestation, Brazil

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