Advances in the implementation of the Law consolidate Brazil’s leadership in the global supply of sustainable coffees.
This May, the Native Vegetation Protection Law (Law No. 12.651, of May 25, 2012), better known as the New Brazilian Forest Code, completes 10 years of effectiveness. Considered the most advanced in the world, the Code was the result of extensive debates between different sectors of society and resulted in important regulatory advances that strengthen the alignment between legally-sound environmental preservation and food production in Brazil.
Some of the innovations brought by the law include the instruments of registration, monitoring, environmental recovery, and payments for environmental services, which promote the conservation of the Brazilian forest heritage and are fundamental for the protection of biodiversity, water resources and, especially, to support the achievement of the goals committed by Brazil in the Paris Agreement. They are:
Environmental Rural Registry (CAR): national electronic public registry, mandatory for all rural properties, which integrates environmental information from farms;
Environmental Regularization Programs (PRA): commitment to environmental recovery, within a specific time span, signed by the owner of the property registered in the CAR with native vegetation area below that required by Law; and
Environmental Reserve Quota: negotiable securities backed by the area of native vegetation of the rural property that exceeds the legal requirement.
Developments in Brazilian agriculture are based on science, adopting sustainable technologies that generate significant productivity gains and enable the preservation of native vegetation areas within rural properties, as provided by the Forest Code. Coffee farming is a clear example, as the sector’s investments in research have resulted in a leap in productivity from 9 bags/ha in the 1990s to the current level, above 30 bags/ha.
Based on the photograph of land use and occupation generated by the CAR in these 10 years of the Forest Code, it is possible to see the alignment between the preservation of native vegetation and Brazilian agricultural production. According to a study conducted by Embrapa Territorial¹ , based on CAR data, there are 43.9 million hectares of preserved native vegetation within rural properties of the main coffee producer states in Brazil. On average, this area is more than 20% of the state total area.
Table 1: Territorial dimension of the areas dedicated to the preservation of native vegetation on rural
properties in the CAR in coffee producer states.
In times of global shocks affecting food security, both due to wars and the effects of climate change, the innovative instruments of the Forest Code strengthen the leadership position of Brazilian agribusiness in the global supply of sustainable food. As highlighted by the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, during her recent visit to the Brazilian Agriculture and Livestock Parliamentary Front (FPA), at the headquarters of the Pensar Agro Institute (IPA), in Brasília (DF), the world cannot survive without national agriculture.
This national responsibility reinforces the urgency of facing the existing challenges for the full implementation of the Forest Code, accelerating the agenda of environmental regularization of rural properties in all federal units. Such agenda is strategic for Brazil to prove to the world that it produces sustainable food, to promote the compensation of environmental services provided by rural producers, and to monitor and fight illegal deforestation, reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, in alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Recently, important initiatives that bring together science and improved governance have been launched to streamline the implementation of the Forest Code. In 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) launched AnalisaCAR, a tool that uses remote sensing technologies for the automated analysis and technical validation of the data declared by the owners of the more than 6 million farms included in the Register.
Last March, Decree 11.015/2022 was passed, establishing the National Plan for the Environmental Regularization of Rural Properties – RegularizAgro, which will integrate data and systems, catalyzing the joint efforts and actions of the Federal Government and the federal units for the effective implementation of plans for the environmental regularization of rural properties.
These initiatives show that Brazil is on the right track, maintaining its focus on continuously improving sustainability and moving forward with legal-institutional support, strengthening governance and sectorial articulation for the effective regularization and valuation of environmental services provided by rural properties. For coffee growing, which is developed in consolidated agricultural areas, these advances will contribute to the consolidation of Brazil’s leadership in the global supply of sustainable coffees.
CECAFÉ Sustainability Manager