The role of land tenure in the occurrence of accidental fires in the Amazon region: Case studies from the National Forest of Tapajós, Pará, Brazil
This dissertation focuses on the role of property regimes to natural resources on the occurrence of accidental fires in small farm communities in the Amazon region. Human activities have increased over the last decades in response to political and economic forces, fragmented and impoverished portions of the forest, increasing its vulnerability to fires. To address the questions of this dissertation, two main frameworks are used: Land Cover/Land Use Change and Institution Analysis and Development. I found that the land use/cover patterns observed under the private property regime are more susceptible to accidental fires than those observed under the common property regime. The land cover pattern observed under the private ownership has a greater area of forest edge (which are more susceptible to fires) and forest exposed to pasture, the key ignition source. However, there are factors other than property regimes affecting land use/cover patterns: The private property community is (a) occupied by immigrant farmers who practice cattle ranching and are less dependent on forest's products and, (b) is located close to the highway, which facilitates loggers' access to the forests. Other studies have found that forests used for logging purposes are also more susceptible to fires. Moreover, specific attributes of the common property regime give to that community important advantage concerning transactional costs for fire management when compared to private ownership: (a) Members of the common property have dense social networks used for organizing communal activities, which improves communication and decreases costs of organizing for fire prevention and monitoring rules compliance. (b) Boundary rules are clearly defined which regulates who may live in the community, resulting in low land turnover and long term commitment to the community. Arrangements will need to be devised to facilitate the organization among occupants that have greater cultural diversity, fewer social networks, and high land turnover situations.
0768: Environmental science