Brown DS, Brown JC, Brown C. LAND USE POLICY. 54 (July 01, 2016): 331-338.

Researchers are increasingly interested in understanding the impact of contentious social processes on land change. In the Brazilian Amazon, there are often contentious interactions between landholders defending private property rights and squatters who have the right to occupy land that is deemed unproductive. Previous studies suggest that the contentious social processes inherent in the Brazilian land tenure and land reform system cause a significant amount of deforestation. An environment of insecure land title, and policies that value deforested land over forested land, among other factors, encourage both landholders and squatters to deforest more land than is necessary for pasture or crop production. This paper examines the impact that land occupations have on deforestation at the municipal scale across the Brazilian Legal Amazon, from 2000 to 2009. We show that land occupations have a direct influence on deforestation. We use spatial analysis as well to show that land occupations have a spatial component in the effect on deforestation: occupations in one municipality affect deforestation in adjacent areas.