As in many countries, Brazil has laws and regulations that should guarantee a healthy environment, including the protection of forests and the fight against pollution of waters and rivers. Nonetheless, some of the laws are old. Only in 1998, Brazil approved the Environmental Crimes Act, which centralized and made clear the rules and violations related to the environmental crimes.
The application of Environmental Law along with other laws, such as the Forest Code, has allowed achievements as reducing the deforestation in the Amazon. Nonetheless, there is still much to learn. Deforestation is still quite high, reaching about 500 000 hectares per year, and illegal burning continues. Crime still pays because impunity is high: it is estimated that less than 1% of the fines are collected. In the State of Para, until March 2008, only 3% of cases related to environmental crimes in protected areas had been concluded by IBAMA; and 78% of the forests used for logging in the period of August 2011 to July 2012 in the State were not authorized by the Secretariat of Environment.
Imazon works to make sure that environmental protection laws are actually applied and to ensure a healthy environment. For example, the institute has evaluated the effectiveness of enforcement of environmental laws in conservation areas; and these studies were used by the Federal Public Ministry to guide its priority actions to conservation in the Amazon. The results of our studies were also used by the Court of Accounts of the Union and the State of Para to evaluate the effectiveness of the management of conservation areas in the region.
Understanding the Forest Code
Researcher Paulo Barreto discusses the goals of this law and the difficulties to apply it (in portuguese).