Brazilian Forest Code, an important tool to encourage efficient land use, but fraught with complexities for states and landholders
November 26, 2015
RIO DE JANEIRO — As world leaders prepare to meet in Paris next week to discuss global climate change goals, Brazil is poised to begin implementing its much-anticipated Forest Code. The legislation requires that, in a few months, rural producers must meet a deadline to register in an electronic database that will help the government monitor and control deforestation. A new study, however, shows the new Forest Code is complex, fraught with challenges, and difficult to decipher – factors that may impact its effectiveness at achieving efficient and sustainable land use. The study, which is released as part of the Land Use Initiative (INPUT – Iniciativa Para o Uso da Terra) and will be presented at the UNFCCC COP21 conference, analyzes the Brazilian Forest Code from the rural producer’s perspective, pointing out possible paths for conformity to the law, and making recommendations for compliance.
Instituted in 1934, the Brazilian Forest Code underwent a modernization process in 1965, and its last revision occurred in 2012. One of the most important tools of the updated framework is the CAR (Rural Environmental Registry), an electronic database in which every rural property must be registered by May 5, 2016, and which the government will use to monitor and control deforestation. To date, however, only around 60% of the Brazilian rural area has been registered in the system. The highest registration rate is in the Northern region of the country, and the lowest is in the South.
The low rates of registration may stem in part from the burden placed on landholders, who must initiate environmental compliance and support the costs related to these activities, and who must also navigate a complex and daunting set of information needs. For example, landholders need to know the historical occupation of the land, including when deforestation took place, and at what times, which may be difficult to obtain if the land previously had a different owner. Further, if a landowner owns properties in different states, he or she must follow different compliance procedures in each state. To date, of the 26 Brazilian states, only 15 have some kind of legislation on the Environmental Regularization Program (PRA – Programa de Regularização Ambiental) and have therefore begun to establish rules to guide rural producers on compliance. The states with implementation rules include: Amazonas, Bahia, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso do sul, Pará, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Rondônia, Roraima, Santa Catarina, São Paulo, and Tocantins.
Legal actions have also been filed, and are still pending, alleging the unconstitutionality of the new Forest Code, which adds uncertainty and delays to process.
To help ease some of these barriers and speed implementation, the Climate Policy Initiative and INPUT studies, “Brazil’s New Forest Code: Part I and II” provide an overview of the code and its challenges and present a step-by-step guide for producers. They clarify key terms and compliance issues, outlining how individual producers can navigate the system through detailed flow diagrams.
“The Forest Code provides a unique opportunity for the country to protect its remaining forests and also accelerate the modernization of agriculture. Its success, however, will depend on Brazil’s ability to anticipate and address the challenges regarding its implementation,” says Juliano Assunção, director of CPI and professor in the economics department at PUC-Rio.
The study will be presented in Paris during COP 21 by Joana Chiavari, senior analyst at Climate Policy Initiative. It will be released as part of the launch of a new initiative: Land Use Initiative (INPUT – Iniciativa Para o Uso da Terra). Brazil’s New Forest Code “Part I How to Navigate the Complexity” and “Part II: Paths and Challenges to Compliance” are the first two in a series of studies and activities expected from this new initiative.
Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) works to improve the most important energy and land use policies around the world, with a particular focus on finance. We support decision makers through in-depth analysis on what works and what does not. CPI’s Brazil program – Núcleo de Avaliação de Políticas Climáticas – partners with the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and focuses on a Production and Protection approach to land use.
Land Use Initiative (INPUT) is a partnership between Climate Policy Initiative and Agroicone, and is funded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). It brings together a team of specialists who work at the forefront of how to increase environmental protection and food production.
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