Protecting forests through policy

In any discussion of Brazilian climate policy, the first topic is deforestation. Brazil has seen marked success in climate-related policies and may be a good model for other emerging economies. Roughly half the slowdown in deforestation in the late-2000s was a result of deliberate government policy, while better land productivity has led to increased agricultural output.


These graphs show the changes in deforestation, deforestation drivers, and land use policy in Brazil


Emissions Annual area deforested in Amazon region in Brazil

Deforestation declined rapidly, particularly after major policy changes in 2004 and again in 2008.


    Emissions Drivers Commodity prices

    Common drivers of deforestation, such as commodity prices, and land protection appear to have changed deforestation patterns, with large scale deforestation declining much more rapidly than small scale (e.g. tracts of less than 25 hectares).


      Policy Area of land under government protection

      As an example of increased Brazilian policy efforts, Brazil has increased efforts to reduce deforestation, and the amount of land under government protection has increased significantly since 2001.

        • Brazil was embroiled in a long economic crisis throughout the 1980s and ended military dictatorship in 1985. Forestry and environmental policy began to receive very limited attention at the end of the decade.

          • Policy Barriers

            • Forest Code of 1965 continued, requiring that a proportion of rural land remain forested
            • New 1988 Constitution increased decentralized environmental policy
            • National Policy of the Environment created key execution instruments, 1981
              National Environmental System
              National Environmental Council
            • Brazilian Environment and Renewable Natural Resources Institute (Ibama) established, 1989
          • Underlying changes

            • Democratization
            • Hyperinflation
            • Failed economic reforms
        • As the economy moved towards stabilization, Brazil established key institutions to execute environmental policy and made environmental infractions penal. The start of the decade saw lower deforestation rates than the late 1980s, but rates had risen again by the end of the decade. (INPE 2012)

          • Policy Barriers

            • Ministry of the Environment established, 1992
            • Law of Environmental Crimes made environmental infractions penal rather than civil, 1998
            • The Land Reform political attention implementation waned due to increased mechanization in agriculture.
          • Underlying changes

            • Restructuring of economy
              Broad trade liberalization reforms
              Hyperinflation ended in mid-1990s
            • Mexican, Asian, and Russian financial crises led to Brazilian financial crisis in late 1990s.
            • Rio Summit 1992
            • 1997 Kyoto Protocol included seeds of UN-REDD
        • Environmental awareness, and conservation policy and enforcement, increased across the decade. Deforestation rates dropped significantly in the second half of the 2000s.

          • Policy Barriers

            • National System of Nature’s Conservation Units established, 2000
            • Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon (PPCDAm) launched, 2004
              Coordinated effiorts among federal, state, and municipal governments, and civil organizations
              Territorial and land use management
              Real Time Deforestation Detection System (DETER) remote sensing system used to implement and enforce command and control policies
              Improved qualification of Brazilian Environment Institute (Ibama) personnel
              Prioritized municipalities with high deforestation rates for differentiated action (Presidential Decree 6.321, 2008)
              National Monetary Council Resolution 3.545, 2008
              Introduced conditional rural credit policies
              Credit contingent on compliance with environmental requirements and legitimacy of land claims
              Strengthened legal support for environmental infractions and sanctions (Presidential Decree 6.514, 2008)
          • Underlying changes

            • Early 2000s surge in exports due to growth in China and significant appreciation of Real
            • Increasing pressure for expansion of agricultural frontier
            • Global recession 2008-2009
            • REDD under active discussion in the UNFCCC negotiations