From legal rules to working rules? How did monitoring, enforcement, and sanctioning affect Amazonian deforestation?

Authors: Sacha Maruã Ortiz Siani*, Department of Geography at Indiana University, Eduardo Sonnewend Brondizio, Department of Anthropology at Indiana University
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Human-Environment Geography, South America
Keywords: Deforestation, Law Enforcement, Amazon, Institutional Analysis, Compliance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual Track 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As 2019 comes to a close, Amazonian deforestation has reached its highest rate since 2010. The national monitoring and enforcement system – acknowledged to be a major factor of the reduction in deforestation rates by 82% between 2004 and 2012 – has been under public attack, and the number of fines shrank by 42% compared to previous years. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches we examine the implementation of monitoring and sanctioning to learn (1) whether, and to what extent, the enforcement of formal legal rules to limit deforestation were effective at the level of the Brazilian Amazon; and (2) how such activities are perceived and acted upon by enforcement agents on the ground. We use the Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework to organize our two-level analysis, i.e., to characterize the relationship among factors affecting monitoring and enforcement at regional and local levels actions, which are then operationalized through statistical and qualitative analyses. First, at the regional level, we provide instrumental variable regression estimates of the causal effects of legal rule enforcement on deforestation by combining remote sensing-based data on deforestation with geospatial data on enforcement of forest laws from 2004 to 2016. Second, at the local level, we use qualitative data from pilot field research in selected municipalities in the state of Pará, to examine how local agents negotiate enforcement in a local context, for instance confronting limitations in local logistics as well as social pressures, such as political pressure, individual coercion, and social ties

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