Lawless land in no man’s land: The undesignated public forests in the Brazilian Amazon | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
December 2020
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 

The Brazilian Amazon has 49.8 million hectares (Mha) of public forestlands not allocated by the federal or state governments to a specific tenure status: the so called undesignated public forests (UPF). Historically, these public forests have been vulnerable to land grabbers and land speculation. Here, we highlighted the imminent threat in UPF by quantifying their accumulated deforestation, all of which is illegal, for the period 1997–2018 and the potential illegal occupation. Based on the available government database, we found that 2.6 Mha of UPF had already been deforested by 2018 resulting in an emission of 1.2 billion tons of CO2 (Gt CO2). The accumulated deforestation was 5.4 times higher in federal UPF than in state UPF. Moreover, a total of 11.6 Mha of UPF have already been illegally registered as “private property” in the Brazilian Environmental Rural Registry (CAR), 70 % of these areas located in state UPF. If legalized as private proprieties, the carbon emissions resulting from additional deforestation will be roughly between 1.2 and 3.0 Gt CO2. The seriousness and precariousness of protection of Brazilian Amazon UPF, the rapid conversion of forests outside these areas and increased flexibility in land policies - calls for the immediate designation of these areas to some form of conservation, as to avoid irreparable damage to the world's largest rainforest.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Azevedo-Ramos, Claudia
Moutinho, Paulo
Arruda, Vera Laísa da S.
Stabile, Marcelo C.C.
Alencar, Ane
Castro, Isabel
Ribeiro, João Paulo


Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.

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