BVRio debates the role of economic and financial incentives in implementing the Forest Code

BVRio and the Forest Code Observatory (OCF) held a seminar to discuss how economic and financial incentives can contribute to the effective implementation of the Brazilian Forest Code (Law 12.651/2012). The event was marked by a space for dialogue and reflection on reconciling nature conservation and the country’s economic development, with a focus on Article 41 of the Forest Code, which deals with the support and incentive programme for preserving and restoring the environment. 

Based on the understanding that Brazil is recognised as a global agri-environmental powerhouse due to its vast natural heritage and efficiency in the agricultural sector, the discussions revolved around the challenges of harmonising agricultural production and environmental preservation in the country’s rural landscapes. 

BVRio Director of Forests and Public Policies, Beto Mesquita, brought to the discussion the fact that the creation of economic and financial incentives for forest protection, recovery and production are provided for in the law itself and are essential for reducing deforestation and favouring the recovery of native vegetation and sustainable production practices. He argues that efforts to maintain and restore Permanent Preservation Areas and Legal Reserves should also be incentivised, as they result in public benefits.

Daniela Pires e Albuquerque, BVRio’s legal manager, brought up the example of RPPNs (Private Natural Heritage Reserves), areas voluntarily created on private properties, in which “the landowner receives nothing for this, but it costs a lot to protect these areas, so he ends up having difficulties guaranteeing the preservation of this forest. That’s why we need to combine conservation with remuneration, to benefit those who guarantee the preservation of the forest, since it generates benefits for the whole community,” she said.

According to Beto Mesquita, encouraging sustainable production in the country can be a reality without damaging the economy. He gave the example of the SIMFlor Programme, which offers remuneration to rural landowners who have properties in the Amazon with more than 80% of their area with native vegetation, a pioneering initiative for the sector. “The Forest Code provides for Environmental Reserve Quotas (CRAs), which until recently people thought only served to compensate for the deficits in Legal Reserves. But this is just one of the uses of the CRAs. We are encouraging other uses, such as backing payment operations for environmental services or activities to protect surplus native vegetation,” he explains.

Rafaela Silva, Scientific Director of the Brazilian Foundation for Sustainable Development (FBDS) and coordinator of the PlanaFlor project, pointed out that one of the project’s strategic objectives is to promote the improvement of the credit and financial incentives system, with the reallocation of resources according to established priorities. “PlanaFlor shows that the development of agriculture and forestry has to be based on ecological principles. This is extremely important not only for compliance with legal regulations but also for protecting and recovering Brazilian biomes, conserving ecosystem services and intensifying Brazilian agricultural production.” 

Beto Mesquita also commented on an opportunity related to ongoing fiscal reform in Brazil. 

“The proposal approved in the Chamber of Deputies replaces five taxes in one, the Value Added Tax, which will have a single rate, but with some activities that will be entitled to a reduced rate, such as transport and education. It proposes that activities and inputs related to the recovery and protection of native vegetation, such as seeds, seedlings and fertilisers, should be included among the beneficiaries of the reduced rate, since it promotes collective gains for society,” says Beto.