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Amendments to a provisional measure threaten the implementation of Brazil’s new Forest Code

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Revised: March, 2019
Published: March, 2019

The enactment of Law 12,651/2012, which instituted the new Forest Code, was the result of one of the greatest political debates in the history of the Brazilian Congress. During the process of creating the law, in addition to countless technical consultations, more than 200 public and private hearings were held throughout the country. After a long and difficult period of negotiation marked by disputes and conflict, common ground was finally reached between the government, productive sectors, civil society, and the National Congress.

Between 2013 and 2018, Law 12,651/2012 was under review by the Federal Supreme Court as it considered four Direct Actions of Unconstitutionality (ADIs). The Supreme Court held public hearings to ensure the best possible decision in the ADIs. Academics and representatives of both civil society and government agencies took part in these hearings. Finally, on February 28, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled on the lawsuits, deciding in favor of the constitutionality of most of the provisions in question, bringing legal certainty to the implementation of the new Forest Code.

Under the general rules established at the federal level by Law 12.651/2012, states began to create specific norms and procedures for the environmental regularization of rural properties. Roughly 19 out of 26 states currently have some regulation on the subject.

Nearly seven years since the enactment of Law 12,651/2012, now that debate has subsided about its implementation, amendments to a provisional measure are being considered by Congress. The provisional measure addresses the necessary extension of the deadline for entry into the Environmental Regularization Program (PRA), but also contains amendments that aim to deeply change the law, threatening the implementation of the new Forest Code. Due to the procedures for approving provisional measures, these changes are being proposed without sufficient reflection or debate, without any public participation, and with limited parliamentary involvement. Finally, it is important to emphasize that the amendments do not meet the standards of urgency and relevance typical of provisional measures.