In a forthcoming paper at the AEJ: Applied Economics, Ariaster Chimeli and Rodrigo Soares investigate the linkage between prohibition of the market for mahogany and violence in the Brazilian Amazon. The complete shut down of the mahogany market by Brazilian authorities aimed at protecting the species, but instead the evidence suggests that an even larger illegal market flourished. Even worse, the homicide rates in mahogany occurring counties increased significantly relative to the homicide rates in areas of the Amazon where the tree species is not present. In this case, an ill-designed environmental protection policy plagued by weak institutions was not only counterproductive, but also generated large social costs.
Image credit: rainforest-alliance.org