Minutes of Open Session
CIFOR, August 9, 2004
Full English Report [177kb]
Brazil by Mr. Everaldo
Almeida and Dr. Cesar Sabogal
The colonization process in the Brazilian Amazon began after the World
War II. In the 1960s and 70s public policies favoured road construction and big
development projects. Government incentives for livestock production in the
1980s increased the rate of deforestation in the region. Large natural resource
assessment and monitoring programmes also began in this decade along with
several unsuccessful reforestation projects funded through public taxes. The
1990s saw a boom in NGO activity and public pressure against deforestation. An
environment law was enacted restricting deforestation to up to 20% of all rural
properties in the Amazon. The situation today still reflects conflicts between
development and conservation agendas. Several promising initiatives are underway
to resolve the differences, in many cases as a joint effort between the
government and the private sector.
The study focused on the region of the Amazon Basin known as “the
deforestation arc” and comprising five states. In this region, several decades
of intensive timber extraction, agriculture and cattle ranching resulted in vast
degraded areas, making up about 70% of the estimated 64 million hectares of
deforested/degraded land in the Brazilian Amazon. In collaboration with several
institutions, a database consisting of over 350 different experiences with land
rehabilitation in the Amazon was developed. This was the basis for selecting
cases for further evaluation. A total of 28 initiatives, most of them involving
collective projects or individual experiences of small-scale farmers, were
finally evaluated in five States (Pará, Tocantins, Mato Grosso, Rondônia and
The average size of the rehabilitation efforts was around 4 ha or 5.5% of the
average farm size of 67 ha. Most rehabilitation work was taking place on areas
previously used for slash-and-burn agriculture. Farmers’ motivations to initiate
the rehabilitation efforts were the application of what they learned in training
courses, to complement family income, the desire to have trees on their property
and the need to avoid the use of fire. The main problems they faced were labour
constraints, limited knowledge on how to manage different tree species, delays
in getting seedlings and quality seeds, poor technical assistance and
insecurities regarding product commercialization.
Among the lessons learned from the study for successful implementation of
rehabilitation initiatives, the following can be highlighted:
- Farmers with demonstrated interest and commitment to actively
participate in the rehabilitation process should be chosen.
- Farmers’ groups should be created and strengthened to enhance chances of
successful implementation. The need to have a working organization is more
evident during the phases of product harvesting, processing and
- Need commitment from the executors and the beneficiaries to fulfil their
roles and responsibilities in the rehabilitation process.
- Selection of appropriate species to meet livelihood needs and generate
additional income for investment in rehabilitation is key to the long-term
sustainability of these initiatives since for farmers, rehabilitation means
switching from their current land use practices.
- There is a need for effective and timely technical assistance to land
users/farmers which calls for partnerships between the government agencies
and the civil society.
- There is a need for training courses on various production options (such
as agroforestry consortia, pasture management, bee-keeping and pisciculture)
to help farmers diversify their traditional management systems.
- It is necessary to add value to products coming out from rehabilitation
interventions. This requires ensuring sufficient financial resources from
the start of a project for product industrialization and commercialization.
- Criteria used to select the 28 initiatives for case study analysis: (a)
existence of a tree-based component for rehabilitation; (b) at least one
year of implementation of the initiative, and (c) an area of at least 0.5 ha
- In Brazil, small-scale farmers are actively engaged in rehabilitation
efforts. Government involvement is mainly in the form of providing
incentives and schemes for farmers’ participation. They do not have a big
top-down rehabilitation program.
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