Who owns the Brazilian carbon?


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Publication Details

Author list: Englund, Oskar

Publication year: 2018

Start page: 2129

End page: 2142

Number of pages: 14

ISSN: 1354-1013

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14011


Brazil is one of the major contributors to land-use change emissions, mostly driven by agricultural expansion for food, feed and bioenergy feedstock. Policies to avoid deforestation related to private commitments, economic incentives, and other support schemes are expected to improve the effectiveness of current command and control mechanisms increasingly. However, until recently, land tenure was unknown for much of the Brazilian territory, which has undermined the governance of native vegetation and challenged support and incentive mechanisms for avoiding deforestation. We assess the total extent of public governance mechanisms protecting aboveground carbon (AGC) stocks. We constructed a land tenure dataset for the entire nation and modeled the effects and uncertainties of major land-use acts on protecting AGC stocks. Roughly 70% of the AGC stock in Brazil is estimated to be under legal protection, and an additional 20% is expected to be protected after areas in the Amazon with currently undesignated land undergo a tenure regularization. About 30% of the AGC stock is on private land, of which roughly two-thirds are protected. The Cerrado, Amazon and Caatinga biomes hold about 40%, 30% and 20% of the unprotected AGC, respectively. Effective conservation of protected and unprotected carbon will depend on successful implementation of the Forest Act, and regularization of land tenure in the Amazon. Policy development that prioritizes unprotected AGC stocks is warranted to promote conservation of native vegetation beyond the legal requirements. However, different biomes and land tenure structures may require different policy settings considering local and regional specifics. Finally, the fate of current AGC stocks relies upon effective implementation of command and control mechanisms, considering that unprotected AGC in native vegetation on private land only accounts for 6.5% of the total AGC stock.


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