Policy ForumLAND USE

Cracking Brazil's Forest Code

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Science  25 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6182, pp. 363-364
DOI: 10.1126/science.1246663

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Roughly 53% of Brazil's native vegetation occurs on private properties. Native forests and savannahs on these lands store 105 ± 21 GtCO2e (billion tons of CO2 equivalents) and play a vital role in maintaining a broad range of ecosystem services (1). Sound management of these private landscapes is critical if global efforts to mitigate climate change are to succeed. Recent approval of controversial revisions to Brazil's Forest Code (FC)—the central piece of legislation regulating land use and management on private properties—may therefore have global consequences. Here, we quantify changes resulting from the FC revisions in terms of environmental obligations and rights granted to land-owners. We then discuss conservation opportunities arising from new policy mechanisms in the FC and challenges for its implementation.