IASS Dissertation
“Reforming Development Trajectories? Institutional Change of Forest Tenure in the Brazilian Amazon”
published in 2014
ISBN: 978-3-943550-01-6
DOI: 10.2312/iass.2014.014

dis_jes_title_pageThis study offers an analysis of forest tenure reform in the Brazilian Amazon. It focuses on five initiatives by forest-dependent people to have their property rights to land and forest recognized and protected by the State. These tenure reforms meet fierce opposition by those benefitting from the lack of land rights regularization. The study describes the key events, agents and their strategies and outcomes of these reform processes, while treating these reform processes as instances of institutional change. Institutional economics – tending to its classical interpretation is applied as the theoretical basis of analysis. Given the highly contested nature of forest tenure in the Brazilian Amazon, this study emphasizes power as the driver of institutional change. To get their property rights recognized by the State, forest-dependent people not only needed to mobilize for tenure reform at the local level, they also needed to reach out to the national level. The study shows that recognized land rights are a necessary but insufficient factor in improving forest-dependent people’s livelihoods. Development trajectories that were laid out in the colonization of the Brazilian Amazon from the 1960ies onwards remain difficult but not impossible to reform.

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