On August 11, 2022, researchers from UFMG, supported by the Observatory of the Forest Code (OCF) and Imaflora, launched a publication that points out that Brazilian rural properties have around 20 million hectares of environmental liabilities that need to be regularized accordingly. in accordance with the Forest Code. Among them, more than 3 million hectares are critical areas for the preservation of water resources.

Estimates of surplus native vegetation, called environmental assets, and deficit of native vegetation, called environmental liabilities, per property were calculated based on original data from private properties registered in the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), applying the rules of Forest Code of 2012. Calculations by state and biome also consider uncertainties related to overlaps between self-declared records.

The Bulletin of the Forest Code Balance reveals that Brazilian properties have a deficit of over 3 million hectares of Permanent Protection Area (APP) around watercourses, areas that need to be restored to preserve water resources. Furthermore, there is a deficit of more than 16 million hectares of Legal Reserve, referring to the percentage of native coverage that each property must conserve according to the biome in which it is located. In the case of its absence, it must be regularized through regeneration, recomposition or compensation.

The states with the highest percentage of APP deficit in relation to the total area of properties are Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Pará and Paraná. Those with the highest percentage of Legal Reserve deficit are Rondônia, Pará, Mato Grosso, São Paulo and Maranhão.

According to the researchers, the estimates are important, as they quantify the efforts that states must undertake to advance the implementation of the Environmental Regularization Program.

The Executive Secretary of the Forest Code Observatory, Roberta del Giudice, comments: “according to the legislation, it is the role of the States to analyze rural registries and identify degraded areas that must be recovered or compensated for properties to be regularized. But we are aware that States face many difficulties due to the lack of technical and financial resources. To make the situation worse, since May, states have been facing problems accessing the National Rural Registration System, SICAR. In this scenario, added to the various threats in the national congress that are on the agenda to reduce the protection that the law grants to natural vegetation, it is very important that civil society and academia join efforts to generate data and provoke the public sector to comply the forestry standard”.

For Isabel Garcia-Drigo, Climate and Emissions and Data Science Manager at Imaflora, the data is also an indication of how vulnerable these rural properties are, which have lost resilience to face the increasingly present effects of climate change (prolonged droughts and excess rain). “Regulating a property to comply with the Forest Code is also an economic issue. The ideal is not to deforest, but recovering this liability with restoration is fundamental and initiatives in this direction have increased. It is important that States join forces with civil society organizations and work on plans to recover forest assets on rural properties”.

The first edition of the Bulletin of the Forest Code Balance is also the result of several debates within the scope of the technical working group of the Forest Code Observatory and involved experts from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV), Instituto Socioenvironmental (ISA) and BVRio.

The launch took place on Thursday, August 11th, at 10 am, in a virtual event on the Forest Code Observatory’s YouTube channel.