Forty percent of the 509 million hectares of land classified as “rural property” in Brazil is owned by 1.4 percent of rural households, finds a new analysis conducted by a group of Brazilian NGO’s.
The study, published in a series of infographics and charts on republicadosruralistas.com.br, shows that a small class of rural property owners continue to control vast holdings despite efforts to more equitably distribute land. Three percent of rural property holders registered under the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) control 55 percent of the country’s rural land area. Meanwhile smallholders who make up 86 percent of registered properties control only 21 percent of rural land.
The authors of the analysis say the findings suggest that “power and money are concentrated like never before in the hands of just a few families.” They note that a number of prominent legislators in Brazil have ties to agroindustrial interests that have been pushing for relaxation of environmental laws and regulations that enable indigenous communities to contest damaging projects on their lands.
“[These policymakers] are leading the battle to undermine land rights for Brazil’s Indigenous peoples, while preventing quilombola communities of Brazil’s afro-descendants from obtaining rights that remain elusive, though first recognized 25 years ago,” said a statement released by the project, which is backed by Greenpeace Brasil, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB), Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI), and Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CTI).
Large landholdings in the Brazilian Amazon.
The initiative asserts that lobbying by agroindustrial interests, coupled with lack of support from the international community, is making it difficult for indigenous and traditional communities in Brazil to implement conservation projects that may qualify for carbon payments under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program.
“Forests are off the climate change agenda, and Brazil’s agro-industrial powers, and its political leaders, now know that no one is watching,” said the project.