Unfolding additional massive cutback effects of the Native Vegetation Protection Law on Legal Reserves, Brazil

Paulo André Tavares, Alice Dantas Brites, Gerd Sparovek, Vinícius Guidotti, Felipe Cerignoni, Daniel Aguiar, Jean Paul Metzger, Ricardo Ribeiro Rodrigues, Luis Fernando Guedes Pinto, Kaline de Mello, Paulo Guilherme Molin

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The Native Vegetation Protection Law – 2012 - (NVPL) is the main Brazilian regulation for protecting native vegetation (NV) on private land. The NVPL, currently in the implementation phase, reduced Legal Reserves (LR) requirements compared to its previous version, the 1965’s Forest Act (FA), through several legal mechanisms. Among them, Article 68 (Art.68) exempts landholders from LR obligations if NV was converted without offending the legislation in place at the time of the conversion. The technical implementation of Art. 68 is controversial and its effects are still unknown. We developed a model to estimate the effects of Art.68 on LR using São Paulo State (Brazil) as case study. We analyzed former environmental laws to identify key periods in which NV preservation requirements had changed. After, we searched for past spatial data on NV cover with sufficient accuracy for each legal benchmark. Combining legal benchmarks with spatial data, we created two scenarios for Art.68 effects, plus a baseline scenario. The first scenario considered a single legal benchmark, the 1965’s FA (scenario “1965”), while the other included the 1989 Cerrado’s protection Federal Law as a second benchmark (scenario “1965/89”). The baseline scenario did not include Art.68 effects. Scenario “1965” reduced LR deficits in 49% compared to the baseline scenario, waiving landholders from restoration or offsetting needs in 423 thousand hectares (kha) of NV. Scenario “1965/89” waved 507 kha of NV from restoration needs and represented a 59% reduction in LR deficit compared to the baseline scenario. The LR reduction by scenario “1965/89” assumed particular importance considering that the additional cutback was concentrated on Cerrado, an already very fragmented and impacted region. Together with reductions from other NVPL rules, the additional effects of Art. 68 unfolded great concerns about the role of LR as a tool for NV preservation on private land, threating governmental restoration commitments, and pointing that conservation command and control approaches should be complemented with incentive policies to achieve the desired and committed standards.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20180658
JournalBiota Neotropica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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