Restoration through agroforestry in Brazil: options for reconciling livelihoods with conservation

  • The Brazilian Law for the Protection of Native Vegetation (2012) obliges farmers to restore degraded lands on all rural properties, which can be done through agroforestry systems as long as they maintain ecological functions in addition to social functions
  • Among the different types of Agroforestry Systems (AFS), biodiverse and successional systems are most suited for restoration since they are capable of providing multiple environmental benefits and improving livelihoods while offsetting the high costs of restoration
  • Ultimately, upscaling these requires co-designing solutions tailored to the socioecological contexts, particularly with regard to biophysical conditions, farmer objectives, input requirements, and the enabling environment (markets, policies)
  • This chapter presents five examples of agroforestry options suited to commonly occurring contexts in the Brazilian Cerrado and Caatinga biomes, which vary in terms farmer objectives, labour and input requirements, farmer objectives, and key species and management practices

The Brazilian Law for the Protection of Native Vegetation (known as the new Forest Code)1 set a series of provisions regulating land use on all privately-owned rural areas, including obligations for restoring protected areas, known as Permanent Preservation Areas – PPAs and Legal Reserves – LRs (Box 12.1). While Brazilian law has required the conservation and restoration of these areas since 1965, compliance has historically been very low due mainly to low enforcement, lack of clear regulations, and the fact that PPAs, which include riparian zones (as well as springs and steep hillsides) are often the most humid and fertile areas and hence most useful to farmers. This conundrum is especially relevant for smallholders, or ‘family farmers’, in Brazil.

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