Working Paper BETA #2018-35

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Title : What drives the withdrawal of protected areas? Evidence from the Brazilian Amazon

Author(s) : Derya Keles, Philippe Delacote, Alexander Pfaff

Abstract : Since the late 1970s protected areas have been one of the most widely used regulatory tools for the conservation of ecosystem services. In this paper, we assess the possible drivers to the choice of withdrawing protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon. Protected areas are subject to inefficiencies because of the existence of conflicts over land between conservation and development activities. Further additionality is an issue, as protected areas tend to be located in areas with low opportunity cost of conservation, where forests are not likely to be cleared. This issue is particularly important in the Brazilian Amazon where growing development must be combined with the need to avoid deforestation. We first present a simple model of degazettement choice which leads us to assess how the presence of two agencies having different development and conservation objectives can lead to implementing this decision. We suggest that the probability to decide the removal of protected areas is larger in places with low and high development pressures. Then, we investigate the empirical determinants of protected area withdrawal by taking advantages of the new PADDDtracker (Protected Area Downgradement, Degazettement and Downsizement) dataset (WWF, 2017b). We confirm that the likelihood of degazettement is strongly influenced by development pressures, through characteristics of the land that enable agricultural development, and by variables related to protected area quality of enforcement and management costs. As protected areas located in highest pressure areas are more likely to be additional, there is a risk that only the most effective protected areas may loose their protection.

Key-words : Conservation policy, PADDD, Land-use change, Brazilian Amazon, Public policy

JEL Classification : Q56; Q57; Q58; O13; O21.