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Fire risk and smallholders in the Brazilian Amazon: why have institutional arrangements failed so far?

Coudel E., Bommel P., Cammelli F., Ferreira J., Navegantes-Alves L.D.F., Piketty M.G.. 2013. In : Ecological Economics and Institutional Dynamics: 10th International Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics, 18-21 juin 2013, Lille, France. s.l. : s.n., 22 p.. International Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics. 10, 2013-06-18/2013-06-21, Lille (France).

In the Brazilian Amazon, uncontrolled fire is one of the main drivers of forest degradation leading to important loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services (ES). Smallholders are often considered as the main actors responsible for these damages, as they commonly depend on fire for agricultural management activities. Since the 1990's, different policies and actions have been implemented to control fire use, but with limited success and fire continues to be an important problem in the region. With the perspective of engaging a participatory policy with stakeholders and realistically bring about a transition out of fire in the Amazon, we take stock of current knowledge on fire from different science realms and understand how this knowledge has influenced policies and institutional arrangements launched in the region up to date. Building on a theory of compliance, we overview the policies developed to reduce fire in the Brazilian Amazon and identify through a review in the recent literature the reasons associated to the generalized non-compliance observed until now. Our analyses show that policies launched so far have been focusing solely on the negative impacts of fire and as such, radically ban the use of fire in a way that is at odds from the practices and motivations of local actors. This flaw explains the failure of institutional arrangements in stimulating compliance related to fire risk in the region. We sum up the different challenges that need to be addressed to build more effective institutional arrangements, which would be more adapted to the actors' motivations and able to encourage environmental services conservation.

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