Legal experts are calling for a new global database to monitor and document the legality of new developments in the world’s most valuable natural resource.
The database would allow regulators and activists to track developments in biodiversity, water, land and the environment, said Tom Prentice, the founder of the Institute of Legal and Environmental Studies.
“I think it would be very useful for those looking to prevent new legal and environmental abuses to look at what’s happening in other countries,” Prentice said.
He is calling for the Global Forest Atlas, a database of countries that have adopted new laws to address deforestation and land degradation.
The Atlas was launched by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2011.
According to the report, the United States and China have the highest number of laws against illegal deforestation.
The United Kingdom has the second-highest number of countries with laws against the illegal logging of forests and the fourth-highest in the EU, behind countries in Spain and Brazil.
In Brazil, the IUCN has identified more than 2,200 new laws that criminalize illegal logging, deforestation and the illegal use of land for commercial purposes.
But countries with the least amount of deforestation and other land degradation are the least likely to have laws, according to the IARC report.
Brazil has only five legal protections against deforestation, compared to nearly 50 in the U.S., the report said.
The IUCn said its findings suggest that Brazil may have an especially lax approach to deforestation.
Brazil is the only country in the Amazon basin that does not have a law to prevent the illegal destruction of forests.
Despite its environmental protections, Brazil has the most deforestation in Latin America, where a third of the country’s forest area is destroyed every year.
As the Iberian Peninsula’s third-largest economy, Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is a major economic driver.
In the past decade, deforestation has reached unprecedented levels, the report noted.