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Transition in environmental governance in the Brazilian Amazon: emergence of a new pattern of socio-economic development and deforestation

Tritsch I., Arvor D.. 2016. Land Use Policy, 59 : p. 446-455.

DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2016.09.018

Socio-economic development in the Brazilian Amazon is currently reaching national averages although deforestation activity has been declining for a decade. As a consequence, recent studies rejected the widely agreed boom-and-bust development hypothesis that deforestation first generates an economic boom, which is then followed by a collapse as forest resources are depleted. Here, we confirm these studies that there is no boom-bust cycle and suggest that a new pattern of relationship between deforestation and socio-economic development has emerged following an environmental Kuznets curve (EKC). In this scenario, environmental degradation increases in the early stages of economic development and decreases in later stages as the economy develops and wellbeing increases. To validate this assumption, we conducted the first sub-municipal analysis of socio-economic development and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon for the 2000¿2010 period. Our results confirm the emergence of an EKC relationship with a turning point beyond which socio-economic growth does not appear anymore to be a driver of deforestation. We also emphasize that areas subjected to active deforestation in 2010 present lower socio-economic indicators than stabilized areas, pointing to the precarious socio-economic situation of areas still undergoing active deforestation. We put these results in perspective by considering Brazilian efforts to ensure a transition in environmental governance with the objective of promoting land use sustainability through control of deforestation at the same time as supporting socio-economic development.

Mots-clés : développement socioéconomique; gouvernance; déboisement; dégradation de l'environnement; dégradation des forêts; croissance économique; indicateur économique; indicateur social; conservation de la nature; conservation des forêts; brésil; amazonie; déforestation

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