REES Brown Bag Seminar: Jerico Fiestas Flores, Thursday, January 26, 2023

Date(s) - 26/01/2023
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
550 General Services Building, 550 General Services Building University of Alberta , Edmonton Alberta

Title: COVID-19 and the Amazon rainforest: How the pandemic has affected deforestation?

Speaker: Jerico Fiestas Flores, University of Alberta, Department of Resource Economics & Environmental Sociology

Date: Thursday, January 26. 2023

Time: 3:30 – 4:30 PM

Location: 550 General Services Building


The COVID-19 pandemic tends to be associated with positive effects to the environment in cities as lockdowns produced a significant increase of air quality
(Brodeur et al., 2021; Dang & Trinh, 2021; Silver et al., 2020) . However, the effects of the pandemic in remote areas in developing countries, like the Amazon rainforest, are inconclusive. Although some work suggests that COVID-19 could be a new indirect source of deforestation ( Brancalion et al., 2020; Wunder et al., 2021) , we aim to overcome the limitations of previous studies to estimate the impact of COVID-19 in deforestation by analyzing the case of the Peruvian Amazon as the country experienced its highest rate of deforestation in 2020 after almost a decade of constant reduction.
The paper uses a panel data set of districts with information regarding COVID-19 infections and deaths, as well as forest cover annual change for the period 2015-2020. We apply three different identification strategies (i.e. event study, difference-in-difference and matching) to obtain more accurate estimates than previous studies. We find that the pandemic had a significant effect and that it might have been responsible of approximately 40% [26%, 55%] of the forest loss experienced in 2020. This would be equivalent to 31 [14, 41] million tCO 2 , which means a step backwards in Peru’s climate commitments. Our results also show that deforestation was higher in districts with likely presence of illegal activities (i.e. coca production for narcotrafficking, nature-
destructive gold mining) and that the national expenditure in forest monitoring and control reduced during the pandemic. These results show the  importance of law enforcement and the need of safeguards that aim to prevent the loss of natural resources during extreme events.

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