Effects of Governance on Availability of Land for Agriculture and Conservation in Brazil

Photo by: Neil Palmer (CIAT). Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Effects of Governance on Availability of Land for Agriculture and Conservation in Brazil

Focali member Göran Berndes and his colleagues Gerd Sparovek, Alberto Giaroli de Oliveira Pereira Barretto and Marcelo Matsumoto published in Environmental Science & Technology.

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The 2012 revision of the Brazilian Forest Act changed the relative importance of private and public governance for nature conservation and agricultural production. We present a spatially explicit land-use model for Brazilian agricultural production and nature conservation that considers the spatial distribution of agricultural land suitability, technological and management options, legal command, and control frameworks including the Atlantic Forest Law, the revised Forest Act, and the Amazonian land-titling, “Terra Legal,” and also market-driven land use regulations. The model is used to analyze land use allocation under three scenarios with varying priorities among agricultural production and environmental protection objectives. In all scenarios, the legal command and control frameworks were the most important determinants of conservation outcomes, protecting at least 80% of the existing natural vegetation. Situations where such frameworks are not expected to be effective can be identified and targeted for additional conservation (beyond legal requirements) through voluntary actions or self-regulation in response to markets. All scenarios allow for a substantial increase in crop production, using an area 1.5–2.7 times the current cropland area, with much of new cropland occurring on current pastureland. Current public arrangements that promote conservation can, in conjunction with voluntary schemes on private lands where conversion to agriculture is favored, provide important additional nature conservation without conflicting with national agricultural production objectives.


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