Ryan Sarsfield, MESc

2011 TRI Fellow in Brazil

The Political Ecology of Brazil's Forest Concession Policy in the BR-163 Highway Forest District

The relatively recent (2006) implementation of a concession-based forest management regime in the Brazilian Amazon is an ongoing and controversial process, though it holds promise to encourage sustainable forest management in a region seeking to balance economic development with conservation of natural resources. The Brazilian government’s broader strategy is to simultaneously support the creation and growth of a legal and sustainable supply of timber from national forest concessions while reducing illegal logging. In the summer of 2011, I carried out approximately fifty interviews with a wide range of stakeholders to evaluate the implementation process and how it is perceived by local communities, government officials, private sector interests, and representatives of Brazilian NGOs. Fieldwork was divided among a number of locations in western Pará state, including a “base” in Santarém at my host institution, IPAM, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, as well as elsewhere in Brazil. I focused on three centers of present and future concessions; around the Saracá-Taquera National Forest on the north bank of the Amazon, the municipality of Jacareacanga and the Amana and Crepori National Forests, and finally the municipality of Novo Progresso on the BR-163 highway. Preliminary results suggest that significant progress is being made despite a number of delays and stumbling blocks, and that the Brazilian Forest Service is adapting to the demands of both local communities and the private sector as they implement the concessions regime.