“Turning the onus of restoration into a bonus for farmers” in Brazil

Originally published on the website of IUCN.

A recent article on research in Brazil yields seven flexible options for farmers who wish to use agroforestry as a means to comply with regulations while benefitting their land and livelihoods.

Successional Agroforests with beds of vegetables and annual crops intercropped with rows of “fertilizer” and native trees. Site: Sitio Semente. Brasilia, Federal District.

Successional Agroforests with beds of vegetables and annual crops intercropped with rows of “fertilizer” and native trees. Site: Sitio Semente. Brasilia, Federal District.

Setting aside conservation areas on Brazil’s farms and rural properties isn’t just good for the ecosystem, the climate and biodiversity – it’s the law. In 2012, the country passed a new Brazilian Forest Code known as the Law for Protecting the Native Vegetation. This code expands on an older law that obliges all farmers and rural property owners to set aside a portion of their land, known as Permanent Preservation Areas and Legal Reserves, for conservation.

Mandating the restoration of a portion of a farmer’s land with a mix of native species carries potential negative short-term economic impact despite the collective environmental services.  Obligatory conservation and/or restoration using conventional methods consisting of planting native trees can reduce the immediate economic potential of the land, which could otherwise be used to farm commercial crops.

Rules for Implementation of the Forest Code.

Illustration from: Restauração ecológica com Sistemas Agroflorestais: Como conciliar conservação com produção (2016) p.233

But this is not necessarily the case. For the many smallholders, or ‘family farmers’ in Brazil, incorporating agroforestry systems (AFS) is a legally acceptable land use which satisfies the definition of a conservation area. However, regulation is still fledgling and consistency in its application has been erratic.

So what is the best way to incorporate AFS into farm land and rural areas while maximizing species diversity, ecosystem benefits, and ultimately, livelihood benefits? Read more

 

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