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Broken Roads and Broken Laws
How Infrastructure and Law Enforcement Shape Amazonian Deforestation Frontiers

dc.contributor.advisorBörner, Jan
dc.contributor.authorSchielein, Johannes
dc.description.abstractDeforestation of tropical rainforests contributes significantly to global climate change and accelerated biodiversity loss. To mitigate these impacts, the goal of drastically reducing tropical deforestation has been a fundamental part of Brazil’s national climate and biodiversity conservation strategies, which were reaffirmed on a global scale as a key part of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. This thesis contributes to the science policy-debate about deforestation in the tropics by studying infrastructure access and environmental governance in the Brazilian Amazon. It uses several analytical approaches on the micro-, meso- and macro-scale, and goes beyond the scope of classical deforestation studies by considering many forms of LULCC, including pasture to crop conversion and agricultural intensification.
The first part of this study focuses on the role of accessibility for LULCC on the macro scale. It demonstrates how different concepts and measurements of accessibility can result in considerably different LULCC predictions. It adopts a regression model to explain the geographical distribution of pasture and crop expansion in the Brazilian Amazon using different accessibility measures and a panel-dataset with land cover information. The results suggest that (1) the difference between wet and dry season accessibility (due to road quality) is an important determinant of pasture and cropland expansion, and (2) that different measures of infrastructure access (e.g., distance to markets versus distance to towns or processing facilities) can explain different aspects of LULCC. These findings suggest that LULCC research can benefit from improved and context-specific accessibility measurements.
The second part of this study operates on the meso-scale by comparing LULCC trends in different deforestation frontiers. It seeks to contribute to the LULCC-policy debate by applying frontier theory insights to map, quantify, and compare land cover dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon between 2004 and 2015. Its theoretical framework performs well in explaining broad variations in scope, context, and agents of land use and land cover change across different frontier regions. We observed two types of transformative processes at deforestation frontiers in the Amazonian context. First, contemporary frontier development is characterized by an intensification of cattle ranching and an increasing share of agricultural activities in local production portfolios, which could be the result of better access to modern technologies and markets combined with forest governance induced scarcity of land for expansion of historically dominant extensive pasture systems. Second, the proportional share of medium and large-scale deforestation declines at first, but rebounds during the observation period in all frontier types after 2012 -casting doubts on the long-term sustainability of current conservation governance approaches in Brazil.
The third part of this study adopts a micro-scale perspective in its analysis. It shows that, between 2005 and 2014, increased environmental law enforcement became a driver of intensification decisions amongst cattle ranchers in the Brazilian state of Acre, located in the western Brazilian Amazon. It uses a choice-model based on both primary and secondary data to estimate the effect of increased law-enforcement on the likelihood of ranchers to engage in pasture restoration of cattle production systems. It finds evidence that federal law enforcement activities induced restoration efforts by way of affecting risk-perception among non-compliant cattle producers, and that pasture restoration was subsequently associated with lower deforestation rates. The findings show that large, well-endowed farms were more likely to engage in pasture restoration efforts than small-scale family agriculture, potentially marginalizing the latter and jeopardizing future conservation outcomes in the region. Standard means to boost agricultural productivity, such as credit schemes and technical assistance, had mixed effects on restoration decisions in the study region. These results indicate that the alignment of environmental and agricultural support policies are critical in ensuring increased sustainability in Acre and possibly other agricultural frontier regions in the tropics with similar socio-economic and environmental challenges.
This study’s findings suggest that infrastructure access and conservation policies do not only directly affect forest conservation by enabling actors’ individual ability to access the forest, but also contribute indirectly by influencing their broader production choices, which are associated with varying levels of land demand. In this context, the thesis finds evidence for two often-neglected insights: First, improved infrastructure access can reduce pressure on forests if it offers producers a broader variety of production choices that are associated with lower land-demand. Secondly, law enforcement in combination with policy induced land-scarcity creates incentives to increase agricultural productivity, which might not only help to save the forest, but also contribute to the performance and competitiveness of the agricultural sector in Brazil in the long run. However, policy makers should always keep social costs in mind and seek cross-sectoral solutions.
dc.rightsIn Copyright
dc.subject.ddc550 Geowissenschaften
dc.titleBroken Roads and Broken Laws
dc.title.alternativeHow Infrastructure and Law Enforcement Shape Amazonian Deforestation Frontiers
dc.typeDissertation oder Habilitation
dc.publisher.nameUniversitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn
ulbbnediss.affiliation.nameRheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
ulbbnediss.instituteZentrale wissenschaftliche Einrichtungen : Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF)
ulbbnediss.fakultaetLandwirtschaftliche Fakultät
dc.contributor.coRefereeTerberger, Eva

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