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Legal Reserve Requirements in Brazilian Forests: Path Dependent Evolution of De Facto Legislation

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  • Lee J. Alston
  • Bernardo Mueller

Abstract

Why would a poor and largely pro-developmental country such as Brazil, that has so much of its territory covered in forest, adopt one of the most restrictive land use requirements in the world when it comes to cutting the forest to give way to other economic uses? We describe the evolution of legal reserve legislation in Brazil, which currently requires that 20% of the area in a property (80% in the Amazon) be left in forest or its native vegetation. This legislation was put into place in 1934 with the objective of assuring the supply of wood for fuel. Over time this objective has become irrelevant, but the legislation remained in place, though non-constraining, until the late 1980s when growing environmental concerns led to increasing levels of enforcement. We show how the path dependent nature of the legislation interacted with the changing de facto impact of the law to create a situation where environmental interests were able to ratchet up changes in the laws that could never have been achieved if the point of departure had been the complete absence of legislation.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics] in its journal Economia.

Volume (Year): 8 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 25_53

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Handle: RePEc:anp:econom:v:8:y:2007:i:4:25_53

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Related research

Keywords: Legal reserve; De Facto versus De Jure; Path Dependence; Environment; Amazon;

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References

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  1. Lee J. Alston & Bernardo Mueller, 2005. "Pork for Policy: Executive and Legislative Exchange in Brazil," NBER Working Papers 11273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Deacon, Robert & Norman, Catherine S, 2004. "Does the Environmental Kuznets Curve Describe How Individual Countries Behave?," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6gm8164w, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  3. Barro, Robert J, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-43, May.
  4. Bernardo Mueller & Carlos Pereira & Marcus André Melo & Lee J. Alston, 2006. "Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes and Policy Outcomes in Brazil," Research Department Publications 3199, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  5. Arik Levinson, 2001. "The Ups and Downs of the Environmental Kuznets Curve," Working Papers gueconwpa~01-01-08, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Luca Di Corato & Michele Moretto & Sergio Vergalli, 2011. "Land Conversion Pace under Uncertainty and Irreversibility: too fast or too slow?," Working Papers 2011.84, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  2. Ulybina, Olga, 2014. "Russian forests: The path of reform," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 143-150.
  3. Pacheco, Pablo, 2009. "Agrarian Reform in the Brazilian Amazon: Its Implications for Land Distribution and Deforestation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1337-1347, August.
  4. Bernardo Mueller, 2011. "The Fiscal Imperativeand the Role of Public Prosecutors in Brazilian Environmental Policy," Anais do XXXVII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 37th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 184, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].

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