Deforestation

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By BRUNO VELO, RICARDO ABRAMOVAY & MARCELO DE MEDEIROS*

Brazil and the world want policies that lead to a drastic and rapid reduction in deforestation

The first indications that environmental policy would be one of the keynotes of the new federal government occurred even before Lula took office. In 2023, government statements and actions made the fight against deforestation the flagship of this guideline. Institutional changes in ministries, targets for reducing deforestation and facing the Yanomami crisis reinforce these signs.

But the forces of destruction are still alive, as the recent votes in the Chamber show, which expand the concessions to devastation in the Forest Code and in the Atlantic Forest Law. The new government's commitment to resuming an effective environmental policy contrasts with the bleak picture that paralyzed public action to combat deforestation.

But the reinforcement of command and control, although fundamental, will not be able to guarantee, by itself, the end of the devastation. In order to fulfill its promises, the government must also adopt initiatives aimed at making viable a more sustainable economic performance, both on agricultural properties and in Brazilian forests.

In agriculture, it is necessary to popularize the choice of producers for techniques that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the field. These techniques already exist, but it is necessary to make them accessible and attractive. The basic premise is that the Crop Plan undergoes a serious review, based on the principle that funding and public subsidies should only be granted to regenerative socio-environmental practices. Also part of this front is the promotion of traceability solutions that make it possible to prove the sustainable origin of agricultural commodities.

On the forestry front, policies are needed to ensure economic alternatives for keeping the forest standing. And that means acting in two areas. First, in the timber production chain. The entire national demand for wood can be supplied by sustainable forest management, but it is necessary to expand the scale of this practice based on reinforcements in the policy of forest concessions.

The second area concerns extractive (non-timber) production. Here, it is a question of implementing policies aimed at leveraging the economy of socio-biodiversity, promoting a model of development in the Amazon that recognizes and values ​​the peoples of the forest as guardians of the Brazilian mega-biodiversity.

Existing policies, such as those that guarantee producers access to institutional markets, have great potential for progress. However, here the greatest creative impetus of the government will be needed, with the formulation and articulation of new policies and government areas that promote everything from good quality internet access in the forest itself to environmentally responsible infrastructure solutions.

In short, Brazil and the world want policies that lead to a drastic and rapid reduction in deforestation. But this objective also presupposes a post-deforestation agenda that makes the fight against the climate crisis and the erosion of biodiversity the basis of Brazil's agricultural, livestock and forestry power.

* Bruno Vello is a political scientist and public policy analyst at Imaflora (Institute of Forestry and Agricultural Management and Certification).

*Ricardo Abramovay is a professor at the Josué de Castro Chair at the Faculty of Public Health at USP. Author, among other books, of Infrastructure for Sustainable Development (Elephant).

*Marcelo Medeiros holds a bachelor's degree in administration and coordinator of public policies at Imaflora.

Originally published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul.


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