The revision of the Brazilian Forest Act: increased deforestation or a historic step towards balancing agricultural development and nature conservation?
Journal article, 2012
Almost two-thirds of the Brazilian territory still has prevalence of natural vegetation. Although not all pristine, much of these areas have high conservation value. 170 million hectare (Mha) of the natural vegetation is located within Federal and State protected areas. Most of the remaining 367 Mha is on private agriculture lands, where the Forest Act is the most important legal framework for conservation. In July 2010, the Brazilian parliament began the analysis of a substitutive legislation for the Forest Act. The main motivations for the revision is that, on the one hand, it has been found ineffective in protecting natural vegetation, and on the other hand, it is perceived as a barrier against development in the agriculture sector. The substitutive Forest Act, as it presently stands, does not represent a balance between existing standpoints and objectives; it may drive development towards either more private protection through market-driven compensation actions, or increased deforestation and less nature protection/restoration. This article uses outcomes from modeling analyses to discuss weaknesses of the substitutive Forest Act and to suggest possible improvements.