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Brazil Looks to Land Titles to Protect Amazon

A new plan is taking form in Brazil to regularize titles to rainforest land -- an effort the government hopes will fight deforestation.
February 28, 2009, 11am PST | Nate Berg
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"The new plan, discussed at a meeting of state governors and federal officials earlier this month, involves regularising the titles to 80% of the private land holdings in Brazilian Amazonia over the coming three years. This, it is hoped, will encourage the occupants to stay and improve their land instead of abandoning it and moving on to clear the next patch of virgin forest."

"Brazil lacks a central land register, suffers widespread forgery of title deeds and has a long history of squatters seizing land. A widely-quoted study by Imazon, an NGO, reckoned that only 4% of private land in Amazonia is covered by secure title deeds. Much of the rest has been grabbed in the hope of establishing de facto ownership eventually."

"The government's new scheme is, in principle, simple. Plots of up to 100 hectares (247 acres) will be given to the people farming them. Larger ones, of between 100 and 2,500 hectares, will be sold using various different pricing mechanisms. Plots of over 2,500 hectares will be reclaimed by the government, which is meant to own them anyway."

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Published on Thursday, February 26, 2009 in The Economist
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