Land tenure regularisation in the Amazon

Project description

Title: Land tenure regularisation in the Amazon
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Brazil
Lead executing agency: Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária (INCRA)
Overall term: 2016 to 2020

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Context

Smallholders and indigenous people of the Amazon region are often the victims of land conflicts. In order to more effectively protect their own forest land and the surrounding forest areas from illegal deforestation, they need secure land titles. Socially, economically and environmentally fair development can only be achieved in the Amazon basin through clearly defined property rights and the associated legal certainty. 

Brazil’s current land tenure system, particularly in the Amazon region, is extremely complex due to the size of the rainforest, the settlement history and conflicting political and economic interests. The areas along the federal highways were distributed among smallholders in the 1970s. These farmers were granted land use rights but not property titles to their plots of land. The absence of clear ownership structures continues to facilitate illegal land grabbing and often leads to violent conflicts over land. Moreover, legal uncertainty hinders long-term forest protection measures, such as the establishment of nature reserves or protected areas for indigenous people. 

Brazil has developed legal and practical solutions to the land tenure issues in the Amazon region. The country has set itself the task of either transforming the 55 million hectares of state-owned land in the Amazon into state protected areas or granting land titles to the approximately 160,000 smallholder families. This corresponds to an area one and a half times the size of Germany. 

Objective

The governance of federal and state-owned land in the Amazon is improved in accordance with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT).

Brasilien © GIZ

Approach

In cooperation with the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA), the project optimises administrative processes of land tenure in the Amazon. At the same time, it strengthens cooperation between regional authorities and other implementing partners in the area where the federal states of Acre, Amazonas and Rondônia meet. Activities include training teams from INCRA and other authorities to implement land tenure regularisation processes in a coordinated manner.

In addition, the project works on behalf of the German Federal Government to cooperate with various government and civil society organisations that are working to protect the tropical rainforest and safeguard people’s rights. It gives support to programmes that allow smallholders to farm their plots of land sustainably and to market their forest products.

Results

  • The Câmara Técnica de Destinação, a technical board responsible for land allotment, was set up with support from the project. This forum made decisions regarding the allotment of public land in the Amazon until December 2018. The allotment board consisted of federal land law-related institutions and individuals responsible for indigenous issues and protected areas. By December 2018, about a quarter of the planned area (around 3.7 million hectares) had been prepared for official transfer to smallholders by the Secretaria de Patrimônio da União (Secretariat for Federal Heritage; SPU). One-fifth (3.2 million hectares) was designated as a nature reserve by means of a decree. 
  • During the course of the project, the Sistema de Gestão Fundiária – Titulação (SIGEF-Titulação) land management system for granting titles was developed. It has been fully operational since 2018 and had issued more than 8,000 certificates of recognised occupancy (Certidão de Reconhecimento de Ocupação, CRO) by the end of 2018. SIGEF is currently undergoing a number of changes, as it needs to be adapted to the new INCRA infrastructure in order to grant titles.
  • Over 30,000 land titles have been issued so far with the support of the project.

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