Beyond protected areas : assessing the role of legal reserves and permanent preservation areas for conserving tropical forests in private properties in the eastern Brazilian Amazon

Serra Nunes, Samia and Barlow, Jos and Gardner, Toby (2016) Beyond protected areas : assessing the role of legal reserves and permanent preservation areas for conserving tropical forests in private properties in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Native vegetation covers about 60% of the national territory of Brazil, with 40% under some form of public protected area (conservation units and indigenous lands) and the remaining 60% located in private areas or public lands with no clear designation. The protection of forests on private land is therefore a vital part of any overall conservation strategy. In Brazil, the conservation of forest on private lands is regulated by the Brazilian Environmental Law (Law N° 12.651, 25 March 2012), commonly known as the Forest Code, and focus on two main mechanisms: Legal Reserves (LR) and Permanent Preservation Areas (APP in Portuguese). The aim of this thesis is to advance our understanding of some of the key challenges and opportunities facing forest conservation and restoration in the Brazilian Amazon by assessing the LR and APPs on private lands. Focused on Pará, the thesis provides the first assessment of the total LR deficit (LR that have been illegally deforested in the past) for any of Brazil´s Amazonian states as well as a uniquely comprehensive assessment of legal compliance with the protection and restoration of APPs, and critically examines implications for different actors and public policy. In Chapter 2 we found no evidence that riparian forests had been more effectively protected than non-riparian forests in the flagship municipality of Paragominas. Instead, deforestation was found to be comparatively higher inside riparian permanent preservation areas as recently as 2010, indicating widespread failure of private property owners to comply with environmental legislation. Moreover there was no evidence for higher levels of regeneration in deforested riparian zones than non-riparian zones, although property owners are obliged by law to restore such areas. A number of challenges limit efforts to improve the protection and restoration of riparian forests. These include limited awareness of environmental compliance requirements, better cartographic products and limitations in the technical capacity of the state and municipality governments. Considering the whole state of Pará, Chapter 3 shows that the total LR surplus (12.6 Mha) – based on the revised Forest Code – is more than five times the total area of deficit (2.3 Mha). Yet, of this total surplus, only 11% can be legally deforested (is in properties with >80% forest cover) and the remaining 89% is already protected by law but can be used (sold or rented) to compensate for areas that are under deficit. This analysis identifies that the majority of municipalities (111 out of 144) in the state could compensate their total LR deficit with surplus areas of LR within the same municipality, indicating compensation can always take place close to the source of the deficit. Maximizing 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. Finally, Chapter 4 finds that, despite riparian APPs being mostly covered by forest in the state of Pará (63%), the area required to be restored by law (1 Mha) accounts for only about one-third of the deforested area that does not need to be restored following the 2012 revision of the Forest Code. This suggests that some important catchments in Pará may not recover fully functioning hydrological and ecological services, as around 2.7 Mha of consolidated APP are likely to remain deforested. We also demonstrated how coarse-scale mapping data consistently underestimates the extent of different APP areas, and thus the scale of the challenge presented by the compliance requirements of the forest code. In improving our understanding of the requirements and potential for forest compensation and restoration, through the mechanisms of APP and LR, offers a key advance for achieving environmental compliance in Pará and elsewhere in the Brazilian Amazon and the wider tropics.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
?? riparian forestlegal reservedeficit compensationforest restorationforest coderemote sensingrural propertiesamazon ??
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20 Oct 2016 08:20
Last Modified:
02 Apr 2024 00:58