Return on investment of the ecological infrastructure in a new forest frontier in Brazilian Amazonia

Teresa Cristina Albuquerque de Castro Dias, Alan Cavalcanti da Cunha, José Maria Cardoso da Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Protected areas anchor the ecological infrastructure that societies need for long-term prosperity and provide benefits to local, national, and global stakeholders. However, these areas continue to go unfunded. In this paper, we have provided the first estimate of the return on investment for nine large protected areas that compose the core of the ecological infrastructure of the State of Amapá, which is located in a new forest frontier in Brazilian Amazonia. These nine protected areas will require US $147.2million over five years in order to be established and then US $32.7million in annual recurrent costs. If implemented, these nine protected areas have the potential to contribute at least US $362.4million per year in benefits (timber, non-timber forest products, nature-based tourism, fisheries, and carbon) to the local economy. The return on investment (ROI) of these protected areas will be 1.6% during the first five years and 10% thereafter; however, ROI could reach 45.8% or more if option and non-use values are also included as benefits. Although the costs of establishing the protected area system in Amapá are higher (US $3.2-3.5ha-1y-1) than the costs reported in other tropical forest regions (US $0.2-0.4ha-1y-1), the investments required are within the reach of both state and national governments. Our study shows that if fully implemented, protected areas can become engines for socio-economic upliftment, making the conservation-centered development model a feasible option for most of the world's new forest frontiers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-193
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Conservation
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Amapá
  • Amazon
  • Brazil
  • Ecosystem services
  • Management costs
  • Protected areas
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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