Land-tenure regimes determine tropical deforestation rates across socio-environmental contexts

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. This is version 2 of this Preprint.


Download Preprint


Andrea Pacheco, Carsten Meyer


Many tropical forestlands are experiencing changes in land-tenure regimes, but how these changes may affect deforestation rates remains ambiguous. Using Brazil’s uniquely comprehensive land-tenure and deforestation data and quasi-experimental methods, we analyzed causal effects of six alternative tenure regimes on deforestation across 49 spatiotemporal scales corresponding to distinct regional-historical contexts. We find that poorly defined public tenure regimes increased deforestation relative to any alternative regime in most contexts. Private tenure often reduced this deforestation, but did so less effectively and less reliably than alternative well-defined regimes, except in remote regions where on-the-ground governance is limited and there are extensive environmental policies. Directly privatizing conservation regimes or indigenous lands, in turn, would most likely increase deforestation. Our cross-scale synthesis informs how conservation, titling, and other tenure-intervention policies may align with climate-change, biodiversity, and broader environmental sustainability goals and are directly relevant to ongoing political debates regarding land privatization/protection in Amazonia.



Environmental Studies


sustainable development, property rights, forest policy, land governance, rural development


Published: 2021-03-06 00:34

Last Updated: 2022-03-05 11:10

Older Versions

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.