Agricultural Policy Review


HOW CAN we balance agricultural expansion and forest conservation in developing countries? Brazil has a productive agricultural sector with potential for expansion and a rich endowment of natural vegetation resources located on private land. According to the last Agricultural Census, Brazilian farms possessed about 98.5 million hectares of forestland (IBGE 2006), a little less than the combined land area of France and Germany. In 1975, when agricultural production was concentrated in southeast Brazil (Figure 1), about 60 percent of farmland was native vegetation. However, since then, technological change and market reforms have enabled national agricultural expansion. By 2006, the share of native vegetation within private properties had decreased to 46 percent (IBGE 1975; 2006).