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Combating Illegal Deforestation

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Published: April, 2019

Strengthening Command and Control is Fundamental

The Challenge

Protecting native vegetation is not merely a critical and urgent environmental responsibility for Brazil. It is also a key to promoting the country’s position in global markets and a major theme as it builds its international reputation. Controlling deforestation also means confronting the crime and corruption so deeply ingrained in the illegal practices of land occupation and conversion of vegetation that currently spread throughout the country. The fight against illegal deforestation is therefore a matter of national concern and a strategic objective that permeates many branches of government.

Monitoring and law enforcement are fundamental to controlling deforestation. Throughout the last decade, Brazil has seen significant progress in this area, especially in combating deforestation in the Amazon. Yet, the country must still face important technological and political challenges to reinforce its capacity for environmental command and control.

This white paper proposes actions to solidify and improve monitoring and law enforcement in the fight against illegal deforestation. These proposals draw on empirical evidence on the effectiveness and limitations of Brazilian public policy.

Recommendations for Public Policy

1. Promote and support technological development that enables the identification and control of small-scale deforestation and forest degradation.

2. Monitor areas of forest regeneration to measure and combat illegal clearing of secondary vegetation.

3. Expand the coverage of remote sensing-based environmental monitoring to the entire country.

4. Develop complementary strategies to combat illegal deforestation in agrarian reform settlements and undesignated public lands.