Social and Ecological Determinants of Land Clearing in the Brazilian Amazon: A Spatial Analysis

Winslow D. Hansen and Helen T. Naughton

Abstract

While tropical land clearing provides for the livelihoods of Brazilians from many socioeconomic backgrounds, it also affects climatological and ecological processes. To develop sustainable forest use, further study is needed to investigate the causes of tropical land clearing. This study uses spatial econometric techniques to estimate the effects of ecosystem productivity, measured by soil fertility and climate, and strategic interactions on municipal-level land clearing in the Brazilian Legal Amazon between 1975 and 1995. We find a negative relationship between soil fertility and land clearing. Furthermore, there is evidence of positive spatial interactions across municipalities. (JEL C31, Q24)

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