Local initiative in conservation and development efforts
Research in both the conservation and development literatures suggests that sustainable development projects are more likely to succeed, or perhaps only likely to succeed, if they are a result of local policy initiative rather than a top-down imposition by outsiders. However, especially in the environmental sphere, there is not enough research directly evaluating this claim or attempting to estimate how much more effective these bottom-up efforts really are. To provide some evidence on this issue, I turn to a sample of sustainable-use conservation areas in Brazil that differ in very few ways except that one classification tends to be formed through a bottom-up local petition process (RESEX areas) while the other tends to be formed through a top-down process (SDR areas; and there are some exceptions). I use a fixed-effects model to illustrate that the sustainable use areas established through a bottom-up process do indeed appear to have been more effective at limiting increases in forest clearing. However, this difference is only substantially noteworthy among a subset of these areas that are already facing a higher risk of forest clearing.