Compensating for past deforestation:assessing the legal forest surplus and deficit of the state of Pará, eastern Amazonia

Serra Nunes, Samia and Gardner, Toby and Barlow, Bernard Josiah and Martins, Heron and Salomão, Rodney and Monteiro, Dyeden and Souza, Carlos (2016) Compensating for past deforestation:assessing the legal forest surplus and deficit of the state of Pará, eastern Amazonia. Land Use Policy, 57. pp. 749-758. ISSN 0264-8377

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Up to 80% of each private rural property in the Brazilian Amazon is protected by law through the Legal Reserve (LR) mechanism of the federal Forest Code, underlining the conservation importance of forests on private lands in one of the world́s most important biomes. However, our understanding of the discrepancies in levels of forest protection on private lands as obligated by the law versus what occurs in practice remains very poor. We assessed patterns of forest cover and legal compliance with the Forest Code in the 1.25 Mkm2 Brazilian state of Pará, which has the highest deforestation rate in the Amazon. We evaluate the LR deficit and surplus patterns for different sized properties and across 144 municipalities, and found that the total LR surplus (12.6 Mha) was more than five times the total area of deficit (2.3 Mha). Yet, from the total surplus, only 11% can be legally deforested while the remaining 89% is already protected by law but can be used (sold or rented) to compensate for areas that are under deficit. Medium and large-scale properties make up most of the total LR deficit area, while agrarian reform settlements had comparatively large amounts of both compensation-only surplus and deforestable surplus. Most of the municipalities (77%) in the state could compensate their total deficit with surplus areas of LR in the same municipality, while the remainder can be compensate their deficit in one or more neighbouring municipalities, indicating compensation can always take place close to the source of the deficit. Maximising the environmental benefits of achieving Forest Code compliance requires measures that go beyond the existing legal framework, including interventions to avoid further deforestation in places where it is still legal, compensate in close proximity to areas with legal reserve deficit and promote local restoration on degraded lands.

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Journal Article
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Land Use Policy
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Land Use Policy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Land Use Policy, 57, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2016.04.022
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14 Sep 2016 13:18
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 03:26