Until recently: If you were a Brazilian landowner who broke the law by clearing your land of native forestry, planting trees was your punishment.
But Brazil has reportedly turned to the digital world to make things right in the environmental realm.
According to the Associated Press (AP), the country has launched a new online platform called BVRio. It allows growers with more untouched forest on their land (than is legally required) to sell “quotas” to farmers who fall short. The sale happens one hectare at a time, for a price that is determined by supply and demand.
AP reports that both environmentalists and landowners agree that the privately-developed tool could revolutionize Brazil’s ability to protect the world’s biggest rainforest — while enforcing the country’s just-enacted environmental law.
Under the new guidelines, growers reportedly have to keep a “legal reserve”. AP explains that this is a minimum amount of native growth on properties, ranging from 20 percent to 80 percent of the owned land. BVRio allows farmers to find and negotiate directly with each other, without the mediation of a government agency.
AP spoke to a variety of environmentalists who believe the new tool will protect the integrity of each biome, or ecosystem. That’s because quotas are only allowed to be bought and sold within biologically similar areas. For example, the news agency explains, a farmer in the central Brazilian “cerrado” biome cannot sell his extra quotas to an Amazonian cattle rancher who clear-cut tropical rainforest and needs an acre of trees.
This creates an incentive for owners of intact biodiversity-rich forest to keep it that way, said Paulo Barreto, a senior forestry researcher at Imazon, to AP.
Saving what’s left of Brazil’s rainforests is key to the planet’s overall health. The Amazon jungle is reportedly seen as one of the world’s most important defenses against global warming. That’s because the jungle has the capacity to absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide.
Only time will tell if the BVRio will revolutionize the protection of Brazil’s natural forestry.