Not just penalties, incentives too can slow deforestation

New York, Positive incentives for farmers, counties and states can do as much to preserve forests as public policies that call for penalties, according to a new study.

For the study, researchers reviewed published research about policy interventions and commodity market effects on Amazon forests in Brazil. "The challenge now is to build upon this progress," the researchers said.

"Some immediate and simple positive incentives for responsible, low-deforestation farmers could be established without major new policies or markets for ecosystem services," they noted.

Suggestions include simplified regulatory requirements or discounts on environmental licensing procedures, better terms on pre-harvest packages from commodity suppliers, and lower interest rates or better terms on loans from banks for legally compliant landholders.

"Still, deforestation is only one of the threats to the Amazon region," said Leandro Castello, an assistant professor of fish and wildlife conservation at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the US.

"There is an urgent need to shift the Amazon conservation paradigm to encompass the freshwater ecosystems, which are being rapidly degraded by deforestation and construction of hydroelectric dams," Castello noted.

The findings appeared in the journal Science.

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