The Forest Code

The new Forest Code (Law no. 12.651, of May 25, 2012), Law that provides for the protection of native vegetation or Forest Law, has been in force since May 2012, but its implementation still slow steps. The Forestry Law, as a result of the strong and continuous pressure for the flexibilization of the Forest Code of 1965 by the class entities that represent the large landowners, must be implemented despite the challenges. A number of obligations under the Forest Code of 1965 were maintained, which are the major challenges of implementing the new Forest Law: the adaptation of the Permanent Preservation Areas and the Legal Reserve of rural properties. With transparency, focus and through a phased process, it is possible to achieve the implementation of the Law.

In summary, the main obligations of the rural producer with the new Forestry Law are:

  1. The registration of all rural properties in the Rural Environmental Registry – CAR, which is an electronic register that has all relevant information on the environmental characteristics and areas of use of the properties;
  2. The maintenance of native vegetation in Areas of Permanent Preservation (APP), sensitive areas that must be preserved due to their location, such as rivers, springs, hill tops and very steep areas; and
  3. The maintenance of native vegetation in a percentage of the rural property, denominated Legal Reserve (RL), which varies between 20 to 80% according to the region in which the property is located.

The new Forestry Law granted several amnesties for those who did not comply with the previous law, representing around 41 million hectares of native vegetation that were to be restored previously (36.5 million ha of RL and 4.5 million ha of APPs) (Guidotti et al, 2017). But even with all these amnesties, together APPs and RLs add up to approximately 21 million hectares that still need adequacy, according to Britaldo (et al, 2014).

In order to comply with the law, rural properties with deficits of Legal Reserve and APP that deforested until 2008, the new Forestry Law established transition rules, which allow the adaptation of rural properties to the terms of the Law, through a process, with following steps:

(1) registration of the rural property in the CAR;

(2) adherence to the Environmental Regularization Program (PRA), to be implemented for the regularization of environmental liabilities of Legal Reserve and / or Permanent Preservation Area, considering the specific environmental conditions of each State;

(3) signature of Term of Commitment, in which each producer presents a project indicating how it will adapt to the legal rules.

The options for regularizing APPs are recomposition and natural regeneration. For the Legal Reserve, in addition to recomposition and natural regeneration, rural producers may opt for compensation, provided they observe certain limitations: (i) it only applies to deforestation carried out in 2008; (ii) the compensation must occur in areas located in the same Biome and State or in areas defined as priority in other states; (iii) and, according to the recent decision of the Supreme Court, in areas with an ecological identity (to be confirmed with the publication of the agreement and report of the judgment).

Once the regularization options have been selected by the producer and the terms of commitment have been signed,

(4) the implementation of the Term of Commitment monitoring the adequacy;

(5) the environmental adequacy of rural property to the Law and conversion of penalties and fines in function of the provision of environmental service.

The deadlines defined by the Law are:

1st Deadline

May 31, 2018 – the deadline for financial institutions to only grant agricultural credit, in any of its modalities, to owners of rural properties that are enrolled in the CAR.

2nd Deadline

Until May 31, 2018 – all rural properties must be registered in the CAR. Properties with non-compliance with the law must adhere to the Environmental Regulation Program (PRA).

3rd Deadline

Period defined by each State for the owners to sign the Term of Commitment. Such term will be signed after the public analysis of the CAR and the proposal of adequacy submitted by the rural producer.

Final deadline

Until May 28, 2032 – all rural producers must comply with the Forest Code throughout Brazil.



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