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Economic benefits of forest conservation: assessing the potential rents from Brazil nut concessions in Madre de Dios, Peru, to channel REDD+ investments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 February 2012

Centro de Sensoriamento Remoto, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Avenida Antônio Carlos 6627, Minas Gerais 31270-971, Brazil
Centro de Sensoriamento Remoto, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Avenida Antônio Carlos 6627, Minas Gerais 31270-971, Brazil
Centro de Sensoriamento Remoto, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Avenida Antônio Carlos 6627, Minas Gerais 31270-971, Brazil
Centro de Sensoriamento Remoto, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Avenida Antônio Carlos 6627, Minas Gerais 31270-971, Brazil
College of Natural Resources, University of California, 207 Giannini Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-3310, USA
Centro de Sensoriamento Remoto, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Avenida Antônio Carlos 6627, Minas Gerais 31270-971, Brazil
Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, Estação Experimental – Conjunto Tangará, Casa 14 Quadra V, Rio Branco, Acre 69912-000, Brazil
*Correspondence: Dr Felipe Nunes or Dr Britaldo Soares-Filho e-mail: or
*Correspondence: Dr Felipe Nunes or Dr Britaldo Soares-Filho e-mail: or


Brazil nut collection is key to reconciling sustainable economic development with forest conservation in the Amazon. Whether the activity is profitable, however, remains uncertain due to the paucity of information on spatial distribution and productivity of trees as well as the costs of collection and processing. To fill this gap, this study developed and used a spatially-explicit rent model of Brazil nut production to assess yields and potential profits (rents) from the Brazil nut concessions in Madre de Dios (Peru), under three scenarios of processing and management (unshelled, shelled and shelled-certified nuts). Potential annual production in the region was estimated to be 14.1 ± 2.4 thousand tonnes of unshelled nuts; at 2008 regional sale prices this corresponded to profits of between US$ 3.1 ± 0.5 ha−1 yr−1 for unshelled nuts to US$ 8.4 ± 1.4 ha−1 yr−1 for shelled-certified nuts. Investment of c. US$ 14−17 ha−1 is required to develop certified production in Madre de Dios concessions; this would approximately triple rents in these areas. Such investment could be channelled through REDD+ projects; sustainable management of Brazil nut concessions may contribute to a 42–43% reduction in deforestation in Madre de Dios by 2050.

Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2012

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