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The Brazilian Forest Code: An Overview of Law 4.771/65 and Bill 30/11

Curt Trennepohl

elni Review 2012, Issue 1,  pp. 27-29.

When Brazil was still a Portuguese colony, there were already rules to protect the natural resources for the Portuguese Crown. Nevertheless, a proper environmental legislation aiming to preserve nature and the environmental balance is relatively recent in the country.
In fact, until a few decades ago, topics like water, vegetation and wildlife were seen by the Brazilian legislation as goods or inputs in the production process. However, this picture has changed since the 1980s and, nowadays, Brazil has an extensive and modern legislation to protect the environment. Actually, Brazil is one of the few countries whose legislation, also known as the Forest Code (Law 4.771 of 1965), requires the maintenance of forests and other vegetation in specific areas, such as Permanent Preservation Areas and Legal Reserve. Currently, a new forest legislation is under discussion in the Brazilian Congress and a few articles of the original proposal were criticized, extending the debate not only to legislators, but also to different sectors of society. This article intends to clarify some of the controversial issues regarding Legal Reserves and Permanent Preservation Areas that shall be preserved, analyzing the forest code in force and the code under discussion. In addition, two other instruments are also described, namely the Rural Environmental Registry, which can support the monitoring work of Brazilian environmental agencies, and the Environmental Reserve Quota, which encourages landowners to preserve the forest.

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  1.  Law No. 4.771/65 establishing the new Forest Code. Lei n° 4.771, de 15 de Setembro de 1965 institui o novo Código Florestal.
  2. Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988. Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil de 1988.
  3. Bill 30 of 2011 for a modification of the Forest Code. Projeto de Lei da Câmara n° 30, de 2011.
  4. PRODES 2011. Estimativa da taxa de desmatamento da Amazônia em 2010-2011.
  5. TerraClass. Levantamento de informações de uso e cobertura da terra na Amazônia. Sumário Executivo. EMBRAPA/INPE. Setembro de 2011.