Virgilio Vianna of the Foundation for Amazonas Sustainability said that since 2003, tax breaks on commodities such as fish and fruit had made local producers richer.
One of the state's most ambitious, and controversial, environmental programmes - The Bolsa Floresta (forest bursary) scheme - was set up to compensate the state's traditional and indigenous people.
It amounts to a straightforward exchange - cash in hand for trees left standing.
To qualify for a hand-out of 50 reais (US$30) per month, a family must attend a two-day training course on environmental awareness and commit to zero deforestation.
Local community associations can get up to $3,000 under the scheme, financed by a partnership between Amazonas State and Brazil's largest private bank, Bradesco.
Another programme offers cash for sustainable activities that do not produce smoke, such as bee-keeping, fish-farming or forest management.
But there are those who say the Bolsa Floresta has been ill thought-out, and imposed from above.
"One of the problems is that there was no discussion with the communities concerned, it was a top-down policy and very focussed on [state capital] Manaus," said Marta Cunha, of the Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission.
The compensation levels are also regarded by some as very low - "derisory" according to Angelus Figueira of the Amazonas Green party.
Defenders say the project - now eight months old - is in its early stages.
Investments by Bradesco and the state should provide more than enough funds to sustain the Bolsa Floresta, its backers say.
And according to Vianna, it's a sign of the "private sector associating itself with the protection of the forest".
Another programme - a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme - addresses the question of "ethical logging".
In a typical FSC-accredited business, just five trees would logged from an area of 10,000 square metres of pristine forest.
Growing global demand for Brazilian commodities has helped accelerate destruction of the Amazon forest.
Deforestation increases and declines according to international prices of beef and soya, as well as the relative strength of the real to the dollar.
But some argue growing demands from the global food market will be matched by increasing concern for environmental responsibility.
Daniel Nepstad, a forest ecologist with more than 20 years of Amazon experience, believes international markets and financial institutions will require more responsible land management on the part of Brazil's beef ranchers and soya farmers.
"There may be a silver lining to the cloud of globalization that has spread across the Amazon," Nepstad wrote in a recent report for the Woods Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts.
Nepstad also predicts Brazil will benefit from the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) initiative, launched under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
We do not see any contradiction in principle between an active economic project and the conservation of this treasure for humanity
Roberto Mangabeira Unger
Under the scheme, he says Brazil would be rewarded for reducing deforestation, because burning the trees releases a vast amount of carbon into the atmosphere.
From the local level to the complexities of macro-economics, an increasing range of incentives is influencing the future of the Amazon forest.
For Roberto Mangabeira Unger, maintaining a careful balance is central to the success of his government's evolving strategy.
"The commitment to preservation has been long-standing," he says.
"Emergency measures are under way. The next step is to put in place the elements of a long-term programme.
"We do not see any contradiction in principle between an active economic project and the conservation of this treasure for humanity."
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