Land-use trends and environmental governance policies in Brazil: paths forward for sustainability.


Historically, the policy framework in Brazil has played a decisive role in shaping land use and changes in the rural landscape. Over the last three decades, the country has made impressive gains on socioeconomic, environmental and rural development policy fronts. Nonetheless, an overall analysis of Brazils policy framework pertaining to land use shows contradictions and constraints that need to be addressed in the long run. One such contradiction is given by disparities in rural credit and finance policies, with greater amounts favoring large-scale farming as opposed to family farming, despite the key role of smallholders in food production and job creation, and still low resources allocated to programs promoting low-carbon agricultural practices. Another contradiction is the dichotomy between climate change policies and mainstream agricultural and rural development policies. Brazils overriding challenge is harmonizing and effectively coordinating these different policy agendas at their various levels of implementation so as to effectively manage trade-offs. The question is what measures can be put in place to enable continued growth of agricultural production while also reducing its negative social and environmental costs? The answer lies partly in increasing support for implementing and up-scaling initiatives to promote low emissions agriculture and providing other economic incentives for adopting more sustainable use and conservation-oriented agricultural and land-use practices. Ultimately, reconciling agricultural production with conservation and rural livelihoods requires greater coordination and harmonization among sectoral policies at various levels of government. Achieving this goal requires the adoption of a combination of a value chain-based and territorial approach to land-use planning with more integrated farming systems in order to enable making improved decisions according to multiple trade-offs and impacts.

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