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Forest Management in Brazil: Barriers and Bridges to Decentralization in a Federal System

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Toni, Fabiano
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1383
Sector: Forestry
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
forest management
Amazon River region
state and local governance
forest policy
Abstract: "This study focuses on the gradual division of jurisdictions and responsibilities among the three levels of government in the Amazon. The federal government still centralizes much power over forest governance, namely the responsibility to regulate, authorize, and oversee forest use and conversion. However, state participation in these activities is increasing. States and Union are also responsible for the implementation of Conservation Units, though the latter plays a more important role. Furthermore, the Union is responsible for the establishment of indigenous areas, which, in actual practice are the best-protected areas in the Amazon. States have also taken on growing responsibilities for fostering forest activities, particularly by means of technical assistance to timber and non-timber activities. "Municipalities lack resources and infrastructure, which would enable a more incisive participation in the sector, yet there are still countless local experiences with activities directly or indirectly affecting it. Among these, wood processing initiatives stand out, as well as wild collection and agroforestry technical assistance, formation of inter- municipal consortia and establishment of partnerships with public and private organizations to strengthen local management, recovery of degraded areas and even the creation of Conservation Units. "As for access to forestry resources by marginalized rural groups, the important role played by federal government can easily be seen, since it is the actor which best addresses the interests of the indigenous population - certainly the most vulnerable in the Amazon. Decentralization can benefit small farmers and wild collectors, particularly through the creation of simplified and efficient management systems, which will facilitate access to clearing and forest use permits for smallholders who cannot afford to prepare sophisticated management plans. This does not mean that aggressive conversion of the forest should be allowed to the poor, but rather that conditions should be created to bring these groups into legality. Less intensive conversion could be the compensation, ensuring conservation of forest resources. Decentralization at the state level, as will be shown here, seems to be contributing, albeit in a modest fashion, to this end. Municipalities, in turn, still have a limited role in this process, although there is a large number of intervention experiences at the local level in the forestry sector. "This study is divided into four parts. In the first, a general characterization of the Amazon is presented, with special attention to territorial occupation and the forestry sector. In section two, some obstacles and incentives to decentralization are discussed, focusing on the fiscal and political situation of the municipalities. In the following section, the roles of state and municipal governments in Amazon forest governance are analyzed. In addition to presenting a general picture of state activity, the states of Acre, Amazonas and Pará are used as examples to enrich the discussion. Next, some areas in which municipal governments have increased participation are discussed, with occasional examples. Lastly, final comments about the opportunities and obstacles for decentralization are presented."

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