Brazilian Forest Code: an important tool to encourage efficient land use

In 2012, Brazil revised a key instrument of its environmental legislation – the Forest Code. When implemented, the Forest Code has the potential to enable Brazil to optimize the use of its vast territory, safeguarding areas for the conservation of native vegetation and agricultural use on private property. Food production with environmental conservation based on the new Forest Code will imply a new dynamic of land use, allowing a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), regeneration of the native vegetation, restoration of degraded areas and balance between conservation and production – which provides additional benefits for Brazilian agriculture.

“The new Forest Code is a valuable tool in land management. If effectively implemented, the new Forest Code has the potential to increase land use efficiency and reconcile production with environmental protection”, says Arnaldo Carneiro Filho, director of Intelligent Land Management at Agroicone.

The new Forest Code sets rules for the use of land for productive activities and for the conservation of native vegetation, including an obligation to restore part of deforested areas in private properties. The law establishes a special legal system for properties where native vegetation was illegally removed before July 2008. On these properties, environmental regularization will follow more flexible restoration requirements, considering the historical legal framework of land use occupation. Farmers who deforested after July 2008 do not have any flexibility in compliance and must restore all the degraded areas as mandated.

Estimates indicate the Forest Code has the potential to restore up to 24 million hectares.

The new Code also creates instruments that support government and landowners in the environmental management of rural properties. One of the most important instruments is the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), an electronic database that compiles information on land use and in which every rural property must be registered by May 5, 2016. To date, 66% of the Brazilian rural area has been registered in the system.

The Land Use Initiative (INPUT – Iniciativa para o Uso da Terra) brings together Agroicone, a leading agricultural analysis organization, with Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) in Brazil, a team of analysts and advisors that works to improve the most important energy and land use policies around the world. INPUT aims to improve and accelerate the implementation of the Forest Code and promote smart agriculture and land use policies.

“The Forest Code’s success will depend on Brazil’s ability to anticipate and address the challenges around its implementation. To help ease some of these barriers and speed implementation, CPI‘s rigorous analysis of the Code identifies its challenges and provides guidance for both lawmakers and rural producers,” says Juliano Assunção, director of CPI.

The private sector engagement component began in August 2015 and is based on dialogue and meetings which aim to build a roadmap for compliance with the Forest Code in four key sectors: soy, livestock, sugar cane and commercial forests.

Agroicone seeks to provide production chains with support for implementing actions.

In addition to sector engagement, Agroicone has conducted an assessment of economic and environmental impacts of regularization and sectoral actions that facilitate the implementation of the Code, and mapped preferred areas for restoration and the intensification of livestock. CPI´s work provides a foundation for policy improvements through economic and legislative analysis. Two key policy briefs outline the new Forest Code and clarify its complexity can be found here. INPUT researchers continue to engage decision makers at all levels and are working to provide guidance on the design and implementation of state Environmental and Regularization Programs (PRA).

Research conducted under INPUT is generously supported by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).

For more information on the project, visit



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