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The economics of fire management in communities of the Tapajos National Forest

Maria Bowman, Virginia Tech, msbowman@vt.edu (Presenting)
Gregory Amacher, Virginia Tech, gamacher@vt.edu
Frank Merry, Woods Hole Research Center, fmerry@whrc.org

Slash-and-burn fires set by migrant settlers in the Brazilian Amazon give rise to large scale wildfires that threaten mature forests, agricultural plantations, and settlement areas. Our purpose is to examine labor devoted to fire prevention (firebreak establishment) and burning for crop production for subsistence smallholders in the Tapajos National Forest in Pará, Brazil. Both the decision to engage in each activity and the scale of the activity are examined. A household model addressing decision making under risk is estimated using survey data from 220 households. We find economic variables such as the opportunity cost of household time, market conditions, and the hiring wage to be important predictors of both decisions (often these are more important than household or demographic considerations), as is household reliance on standing forest resources for non-timber products. We also find that the involvement of NGOs and the government plays an important role in encouraging fire prevention behavior. Our results provide support for programs that emphasize economic parameters and for considering smallholder productivity in policies that target accidental fire prevention or reduction in burning activity.

Science Theme:  LC (Land Use and Land Cover Change)

Session:  3B: Modeling LCLUC

Presentation Type:  Oral

Abstract ID: 23

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