Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) decided to return the CAR (Rural Environmental Registry) and the Forestry Service to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the new name of the portfolio.
The changes were made official in the decree that restructures the ministry —now headed by Marina Silva—, published this Monday (2nd) in the Official Gazette.
The CAR and the Forest Service had been transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture in the government of former President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), during the management of Ricardo Salles.
The function of the cadastre is, first, to register properties in rural areas and then to inspect the environmental laws in the places.
For Mauricio Guetta, legal advisor at ISA (Instituto Socioambiental), the changes applied by Salles were like “putting the fox in charge of the henhouse”.
He recalls that the CAR was proposed, within the framework of the creation of the Forest Code (in 2012), by the ruralists themselves as an instrument to monitor compliance with the law within rural properties and as a way to compensate for the amnesties for deforestation granted at the time.
The instrument has been experiencing problems ever since. There are several cases of properties that only went through the first part of the registration, the self-declaration, but that were never validated — and it is in this second stage that the controlling body should verify whether or not the rules are being complied with.
The change of portfolio promoted by the Bolsonaro administration, emphasizes the lawyer, represented a conflict of interest, since it is the technical staff of the Environment, not Agriculture, that has the capacity to carry out this inspection function.
“With the return to the original portfolio, there is an expectation that the CAR will be better implemented, not least because the current minister is guided by the effectiveness of public policies. But there are complexities”, says Guetta.
According to him, the main one is that, in the vast majority of cases, those who validate the self-declared information are the states, not the federal government.
An analogous case happens with the Forestry Service. He is responsible for implementing environmental policies, for making forest concessions, which require in-depth technical analysis of environmental impacts.
During Salles’ administration —and, therefore, with the service subordinated to Agriculture—, for example, concessions were registered that did not comply with the norm.
It was also at that time that the government extinguished inspections for the export of native wood, which culminated in the departure of the then minister, when the STF (Federal Supreme Court) was summoned to analyze the case.
Also this Monday, the Lula government issued a series of acts on the environmental issue. For example, the Amazon Fund, which currently has BRL 3.3 billion and was paralyzed by Bolsonaro, has been reestablished.
The ex-president’s decree that eased restrictions against mining on indigenous lands was also revoked, and the National Environment Fund was restructured.
The new government also brought back the PPCDAm (Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon) and determined that similar plans exist for other Brazilian biomes, such as the cerrado and the Pantanal.
In addition, Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) regulations were drafted to avoid the statute of limitations for fines applied by the agency and valued at a total of almost R$ 19 billion.
The new government also brought civil society institutions back into Conama (National Council for the Environment), which had been emptied by Bolsonaro.
The Planeta em Transe project is supported by the Open Society Foundations.