Evaristo Eduardo de Miranda

Native Vegetation Well Protected by Brazilian Farmers

A major producer of food, energy and fiber, Brazil is also powerful in environmental preservation, with more than 66% of its territory covered by native vegetation. And that number rises to nearly 75% if Pantanal, Pampa, Caatinga and Savanna native pasture areas are included.

All grain production (corn, rice, soybeans, beans), fiber (cotton, cellulose) and agroenergy fields (sugarcane, energy forests) occupy only 9% of the country. Rural producers preserve more native vegetation areas into their rural properties (20.5% of the Brazilian territory) than all conservation units together (13%).

These data, provided by Embrapa, result mainly from the tabulated information of the Rural Environmental Cadastre (CAR, in portuguese), created by 12.651/12 Law, known as The New Forest Code, which has just completed five years. More than 4.1 million rural properties, totaling over 410 million hectares, were registered at the Brazilian Forest Service until May 2017.

Farmers have detailed on a map, based on satellite images, all their land use and occupation, in accordance with the Code. Comparing to the Income Tax Declaration, it is like the taxpayer would have to inform, on the house plan, how each furniture piece is disposed and which use is attributed to each room. In the Amazon, for example, the taxpayer would have to make clear that 80% of the property is not used, it’s set apart as a legal reserve. But he takes care and pays taxes on all area, even on the 80% portion he is forbidden to use.

Considering its agricultural area registered at CAR, is possible to confirm that Brazilian producers preserve much more than conservation units. In the Brazilian Southern region for example, the farmers preserve 26% of the land, number well above what’s required there by the Forest Code (20% in that region).

Evaristo Eduardo de Miranda is Coordinator of the Territorial Intelligence Strategic Group at Embrapa
Evaristo Eduardo de Miranda is Coordinator of the Territorial Intelligence Strategic Group at Embrapa
Evaristo Eduardo de Miranda is Coordinator of the Territorial Intelligence Strategic Group at Embrapa

In Southeastern region – except for the Espírito Santo where data are not available – the farmers preserve 29%, also well above the Forest Code requirement (also 20% in the region). At the Central-Western region – except for the Mato Grosso do Sul State where data are also not available – once again they preserve a higher percentage than the Forest Code requires: 49% of their land (while 20% is requested by the Code, except in the northern part of Mato Grosso State, where 80% is required).

In the North, only Tocantins State agriculture preserves more than conservation units. Within their properties, the farmers present a native vegetation preservation rate of 56%. In the other Amazonian states, environmental protection is very broad: 71% of Amapá, 53% of Amazonas, 47% of Acre, 66% of Roraima and 50% of Pará territories – and there’s also extensive areas covered by rainforest on wasteland.

In the Brazilian Northeast, it is estimated that only 36% of rural properties have registered in the CAR, but it’s already enough to indicate the farmers’ role in vegetation preservation. In most Northeastern states, producers preserve more than 50% of their properties area, when 20% is required (except in part of Maranhão).

It’s important to highlight if the native vegetation such as Pantanal, Pampa, Caatinga, Savanna were added to the native vegetation areas preserved the total would reach almost 75% of the Brazilian territory. And this percentage tends to get even higher when Espírito Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul and all Northeastern data get available.

This enormous preservation effort in rural properties benefits the entire Nation. The responsibility and costs, due to these areas immobilization and maintenance, lie entirely on producers, with no counterpart from society, especially from urban consumers. Embrapa will calculate these immobilized area value and costs. Since 1990 there is a discussion about payment for ecosystems services. This fairy tale didn’t come true yet. Citizens are willing to protect the environment in rural areas, but do not consider paying for it. From them, producers expect at least less demonization of their activities, greater knowledge of their reality and fair recognition. It is always good to remember that villain and villainy derive from village, town.

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