A recent study, published in the European Journal of Ecology, shows the new Brazilian Forest Code has diminished the legal responsibility of the rural owners in relation to the maintenance of forest fragments on their properties.
By Fabio Angeoletto
The writing of the new Brazilian Forest Code (Law 12651/2012) has motivated intense debates among environmentalists, scientists and politicians linked to the powerful Brazilian agribusiness. During those debates, the predominant argument among Brazilian scientists was that the change in legislation would make the Brazilian forests more vulnerable to degradation, especially the fragments of forest located on farms and other rural properties.
It is important to emphasize that the new Forest Code covers the entire territory of Brazil, and its six biomes, including two biodiversity hotspots: the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado, where a recent case study was carried out.
More than half of the Cerrado’s 2 million km² has been transformed into pasture, cash-crop agriculture, and other uses over recent decades. The Cerrado biome has a rich biological diversity. The number of vascular plants exceeds 7000 species. Approximately 1200 fish species; 199 mammal species and 837 bird species have been identified in the Cerrado.
The aim of the research, which was published in the European Journal of Ecology was to set a comparative scenario to express differences in the quantification of environmental liabilities in the riparian forest of Vermelho River, in Rondonópolis County (Mato Grosso State, Brazil) resulting from changes in the protection rules due to the transition from the old to the new Brazilian Forest Codes.
The researchers identified 85 hectares of arboreal-size riparian vegetation and 43.92 hectares of areas altered or degraded by agroforestry activities in a 100-meter-wide 16-kilometer-long strip along Vermelho River, through geoprocessing techniques.
According to the rules set by the previous Code, that degraded area (43.92 hectares) should be recovered. However, according to the new Brazilian Forest Code, this environmental liability does not exceed 0.8 hectare.
The authors have shown that the new Forest Code has diminished the legal responsibility of the rural owners in relation to the maintenance of forest fragments in their properties. In other words, the degradation of forests exists, and rural landowners cannot be held liable for these environmental damages.
As anticipated by several scientists, before the implementation of the new Code and as evidenced by several subsequent studies (including this paper), the new Code increased deforestation and weakened the biodiversity conservation of the Brazilian forests.
Agriculture advances over Brazilian forests, and environmental laws are ineffective in conserving its biodiversity.
Read the original article here
Normandes Matos da Silva, Fabio Angeoletto, Jeater W.M.C. Santos, Antonio C. Paranhos Filho, Marcelo C. Vacchiano, João F.C. Bohrer, Anny Keli A. A. Cândido: The negative influences of the new brazilian forest code on the conservation of riparian forests. 17.02.2018