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Looking but not seeing: The ‘potentiality’ and ‘actuality’ of the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) in the Brazilian Amazon

Pietro Aldobrandini's picture

Prof. Raoni Rajão has been studying the role of monitoring systems, spatial data infrastructure and transparency in deforestation policy-making in the Amazon for more than a decade (http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/GLEP_a_00259) and has been involved in policy-making as a science advisor for the Ministry of Science and Technology at the UNFCCC.

His presentation summarises an analysis of the ‘potentiality’ and ‘actuality’ of the Environmental Rural Registry (Cadastro Ambiental Rural or CAR), a satellite-based system for registration and monitoring of rural properties in Brazil. Over 3 million properties throughout the country are currently registered with CAR, reaching 90% of the total area of private properties in Brazil. The origins of the system can be traced to 1999 when the State of Mato Grosso created a satellite-facilitated system for the registration and licencing of rural properties (SLAPR). The presumed success of this system in turn inspired the creation in 2008 of CAR-PA in Pará and in 2012 of the National CAR as the main instrument of the Forest Code. It is easy to agree that the National CAR has considerable potential as an instrument for implementing the requirements of the Forest Code. However an analysis of the ‘actuality’ of its precursors in Mato Grosso (SLAPR in 1999-2007 and CAR in 2009-2011) and in Pará (2009-2012) reveals that this family of systems have so far failed to bring about any consistent reduction in deforestation levels across the range of registered properties. The present study argues that this unfortunate (and seemingly unexpected) outcome is understandable if seen in the context of the conflicting motivations which have led farmers, local politicians, national policy-makers, academic observers and NGOs to embrace CAR and which have shaped its implementation practices in both Mato Grosso and Pará. It is therefore suggested that both policy-makers and researchers should become more attuned to the complexities and indeterminacies of the implementation of environmental policies and technologies, and attend more closely to the specific ways in which ‘street level bureaucrats’ and their clients (farmers, land-owners, etc.) relate to such policies and technologies.

The meeting will take place in FAO Headquarters in Rome (Viale delle Terme di Caracalla) in the Mexico Room.


10:00- 10:10 Welcome remarks

10:10 – 10:20 Looking but not seeing: The ‘potentiality’ and ‘actuality’ of the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) in the Brazilian Amazon, Prof.  Raoni Rajão, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

10:20 – 10:35 VGGT – Global Standard for Good Governance of Tenure, Francesca Romano and Javier MolinaCruz, OPCL, FAO

10:35 – 10:50 FORIS Tool and its implementation in Brasil, Marcelo Rezende and Alfonso SanchezPausDiaz, FOA, FAO

10:50 – 11:05 Spatial Data infrastructure in support of good land governance, Rumyana Tonchovska, OPCL, FAO

11:05-11:30 Lessons Learned and Opportunities