Brazil’s forest code debate may determine fate of the Amazon rainforest

Brazil’s forest code may be about to get an overhaul.

The federal code, which presently requires landowners in the Amazon to keep 80 percent of their land forest (20-35% in the cerrado), is widely flouted, but has been used in recent years as a lever by the government to go after deforesters. For example, the forest code served as the basis for the “blacklists” which restricted funds for municipalities where deforestation has been particularly high. To get off the blacklist, and thereby regain access to finance and markets, a municipality must demonstrate its landowners are in compliance with environmental laws.

The blacklist approach proved highly effective in attacking the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon: cattle ranching, which is now facing much stronger regulation than in the past. Several major meat processors now have huge fines hanging over their heads.

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