DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_3_23 ISSN: 0972-4923

Forest Policy Innovation at the Subnational Scale: Insights from Acre, Brazil

Maron Greenleaf, Jeffrey Hoelle, Magaly Medeiros, Alberto Tavares
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


REDD+ is often characterised as a ‘global’ environmental framework implemented in tropical forests around the world. Yet studying actual cases of REDD+ can reveal complex interactions between scales, including under-recognised innovations at subnational and local scales. To understand these dynamics, this article brings together academics and policymakers to analyse the System of Incentives for Environmental Services (SISA)—a pioneering subnational policy in the Amazonian state of Acre, Brazil that includes a prominent jurisdictional REDD+ programme. While institutions, people, and ideas from outside of Acre contributed to its formulation, SISA is not a standardised local expression of a global policy. Rather, key aspects of it originated in ongoing and historical Acrean forest-use and governance. This analysis shows how innovative, place-based conservation policy can be influential, both within and beyond specific localities, in ways that challenge analyses of REDD+ that are primarily top-down. Our study of SISA also shows how topics of importance in contemporary REDD+ and forest conservation scholarship—efforts to make the living forest valuable, non-carbon social and environmental “co-benefits,” and landscape- and jurisdiction-wide approaches to combating deforestation—are connected to Acrean forest governance and history. Overall, this analysis elucidates the strengths and challenges of subnational forest governance and the complex inter-scalar dynamics in REDD+ and other conservation and climate policies.

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