The paper tests whether legal territorial protection grants actual protection against advancing deforestation. Using a measure of neighboring clearing activity to capture local deforestation risk, the analysis compares forest clearing outcomes in unprotected and protected territories under equivalent deforestation pressures. The empirical strategy draws on the dataset’s raster structure to mitigate concerns of potentially confounding unobservables via the use of raster cell fixed effects. Results document protection’s efficacy in a high-risk context, with significantly less forest being cleared in protected cells than in unprotected ones. Yet, although protected territory effectively shields vegetation under its domain from advancing deforestation, it appears to deflect clearings to unprotected areas. Protectiontherefore affects regional forest clearing dynamics, but not the overall level of deforestation.
Suggested citation: Assunção, Juliano and Clarissa Gandour. The Deforestation Menace: Do Protected Territories Actually Shield Forests? Working Paper 001. Rio de Janeiro: Climate Policy Initiative, 2018.