Brazilian public protection regulations and the preservation of ecosystem services and biodiversity

Abstract: Brazil is significant for sustaining ecosystems services and biodiversity of global importance. However, the expansion of forestry and agriculture to supply national and international markets often results in loss of ecosystem services and biodiversity. Public protection regulations play a crucial role in setting limits for agricultural expansion. This thesis aims at improving the understanding of the potential impacts of prevailing policies in the preservation of ecosystem services and biodiversity associated with the native vegetation in Brazil. The Land Use Governance Assessment (LUGA) model was developed to simulate the implementation of existing public protection regulations, in particular, the Brazilian Forest Act.The results suggest that command and control regulations do not protect about 28 % of the above-ground carbon in Brazil. The regularisation process of undesignated land is expected to expand protection to an additional 18 % of the above-ground carbon stocks, leaving about 10 % of the carbon stocks unprotected. On the other hand, the preservation of viable populations of several threatened mammal species is highly dependent on an urgent expansion of protected areas in the Cerrado and Caatinga biomes. Furthermore, the results from this thesis indicate that offsetting legal deficit of native vegetation may have little or no additional effects on the protection of native vegetation. The potential loss of forest protection due to reduced legal reserve requirements in the Amazon could potentially range from 6.5 Mha to more than 15 Mha.There are critical gaps in the land use policies in Brazil that threaten the preservation of ecosystem services and biodiversity associated with native vegetation. Market-driven mechanisms can potentially contribute to filling this gap, protecting nature beyond the legal requirements. Yet, additional regulations may be necessary to improve the efficiency of the trading system of legal deficit of native vegetation among farmers, ensuring environmental and socio-economic functions of this system, and effectively balancing production with conservation.