Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 279–295 | Cite as

Ecosystem Service Value and Agricultural Conversion in the Amazon: Implications for Policy Intervention

  • Michael L. MannEmail author
  • Robert K. Kaufmann
  • Dana Marie Bauer
  • Sucharita Gopal
  • James G. Baldwin
  • Maria Del Carmen Vera-Diaz


We explore the welfare implications of agricultural expansion in the Brazilian Amazon by comparing spatially explicit estimates of soybean rents and the value of ecosystem services. Although these estimates are generated from different datasets, models, and estimation techniques, the values are comparable, such that the value of ecosystem services is greater than soybean rents for about 61% of the total area and 24% of the area where soybean rents are positive if protected areas are well enforced. Based on the balance between the benefits and costs of conversion, failure to value ecosystem services reduces total social welfare by 7.13 billion dollars annually relative to an optimum. Policy instruments that internalize the value of ecosystem services via protected lands, land conversion taxes, conservation subsidies, or excise taxes can avoid much of this loss. Regardless of intervention regime, policy makers should be cognizant of the diminishing net benefits of converting natural ecosystems to agriculture. Realizing the final 3.8% requires the conversion of an additional 15% natural ecosystems to soybean production.


Ecosystem services Agriculture Land use policy Tax policy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael L. Mann
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Robert K. Kaufmann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dana Marie Bauer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sucharita Gopal
    • 2
  • James G. Baldwin
    • 2
  • Maria Del Carmen Vera-Diaz
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for Energy and Environmental StudiesBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and EnvironmentBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Science, Policy and ManagementUniversity of California-BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.GDAETufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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