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The Impact of Brazil’s National Plan to Prevent and Control the Deforestation in the Amazon: a synthetic control approach

Another presentation in the 2012 EfD-CA Seminar Series at CATIE.

Since 2004, the deforestation rate in Brazil’s humid tropical forest has declined dramatically. The Brazilian government and conservation organizations attribute this successful outcome to Brazil’s National Plan to Prevent and Control the Deforestation in the Amazon (PPCDAm). However, other factors that affect deforestation rates (e.g., commodity prices) were also changing during this same period. To disentangle the effect on deforestation of the PPCDAm policy separate from cotemporaneous confounding factors, we use a synthetic control method (Abadie, Diamond, & Hainmueller, 2010). The synthetic control method is useful in comparative case studies like ours where there is only one treated unit (Brazil) and no single other unit is a valid counterfactual for the treated unit. Instead of selecting a single country as the counterfactual, we create a synthetic counterfactual for Brazil with a weighted combination of control countries from a pool of countries that have humid tropical biome areas and did not enact an anti-deforestation policy around 2004. Because a global time series of deforestation from 2000-2010 does not yet exist, we use remotely-sensed fire as a proxy for deforestation.