In Brazil, a law on the regularization of land could increase deforestation

Au Brésil, une loi sur la régularisation foncière pourrait aggraver la déforestation

A draft law on regularization of illegal growing operations on public lands is feared in Brazil, a worsening of the deforestation and land conflicts, especially in the Amazon region, in a context of questioning of the environmental standards by the government Bolsonaro.

The occupation disorderly of some 600 000 km2 of public land (an area equivalent to that of France) has mostly been spurred from the military dictatorship (1964-1985), which has promoted the installation of farmers and operators, without always giving them property titles.

This legal uncertainty has whetted the appetite of speculators, who will take over and déboisent these lands in order to resell them with a title that is fraudulent, a method known as “grilagem”, the origin of uncontrolled deforestation and violent territorial disputes.

To remedy this historical problem, the Lula government had launched in 2009 the program “Land and legal”, which provided for the establishment of 150 000 facilities open until 2004, and should especially benefit family agriculture.

But only 20% of them have earned a title to the property and the adjustments have been almost suspended since the arrival of Jair Bolsonaro to power in 2019. The new text provides for rules even more flexible and goes hand in hand with another project of the president of the extreme right to allow the mining and farming of indigenous lands, on which parliamentarians must also decide.

Fewer on-site inspections

“If the government’s goal really was to help small farmers, it was pointless to change the legislation” because what he would have meant it is “more resources and political will”, said to AFP Elias Borges, secretary of agrarian policy of the national Confederation of rural workers (Contag).

Mr. Borges criticism including the fact that the exemption of inspections prior on the field, which originally was that of small farms of 440 acres maximum, can take advantage of properties ranging up to 1 650 ha, the control is then carried by satellite.

The rapporteur of the project to the Chamber of deputies has found a compromise solution, to 660 ha, but it is only a “retreat strategically”, because the government “continued to pressure” for changes to be made, writes Juliana de Paula Batista, a lawyer with the Institute for socio-environmental.

This expansion concerned about Brenda Brito, a researcher at the Institute of man and environment in the Amazon.

“Agrarian conflicts are not verifiable by satellite, and are not all met by the authorities. There is also no robust process of verification of the data banks, for example at the level of the cadastre, environmental, rural areas where overlap. The priority should be to strengthen this control,” she says.

“Crime pays”

The researcher is also concerned by the ease with which one could spend the sponge on environmental crime, operators in violation of not having to sign some kind of agreement of good conduct. The approval of this act “would be tantamount to saying that crime pays,” and will encourage new invasions, while worsening the clearing.

The text could be voted on in the next few days in the House, where the commissions have seen their activities reduced by the pandemic. The minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles affirmed at a ministerial meeting on April 22, want to take advantage of “the opportunity of the fact that the press is focusing on the coronavirus” to “pass reforms and that easing the rules”, particularly related to the protection of the Amazon.

The main channels of distribution, uk, Tesco, Marks and Spencer or Waitrose, “concerned” by the project, were threatened in may to boycott the products of the brazilian, if it is adopted, because it would “put in danger the survival of the Amazon”.

In the first quarter of 2020, the deforestation of the Amazon has increased by 51% compared to the same period in 2019, a third of which has been recorded in the public lands not allocated, falls under the Institute of environmental research on the Amazon (Ipam).

The land conflicts recorded in Brazil in 2019, which increased by 11.6% compared to the previous year, focus in majority (60%) in the amazon region, according to the latest report of the pastoral Commission of the earth.

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