Landowners get two years to register ownership, or lose property to State

As the government starts formulating ideas for forestry reform – the idea being to bring abandoned hectares into shape, and reduce fire risks – landowners are being given until December 31, 2018 to register their property, free of any charges.

Whether rustic, agricultural or forest land, it has be to ‘owned up to’.

Afterwards – from January 1, 2019 – any land where the owner, or owners, are “unknown” will pass to the “Banco de Terras” to be run by the State for the next 15 years.

“If at the end of this time, the land has not been reclaimed, then the State will be able to sell it, or rent it out”, reports national tabloid Correio da Manhã.

In the intervening period, the land will be made to work by “a regime of forestry management companies” which will be given tax benefits.

The idea is that these companies will have a minimal area of 100 hectares of which 50% will be made up of five hectare ‘properties’ to be managed by third parties, mostly “young farmers”.

For the national federation of forest property owners, the best part of the government’s plan is that the country will finally have “a record of abandoned lands”.

The federation adds that it does not believe these areas add up to 5% of national territory.

But after one of the worst summers for wildfires in a decade – in which more than 150,000 hectares were destroyed – tackling the problem of “land left to abandon” has become a burning priority.

The government’s interministerial working party, created at the height of the fire season in August, has been meeting “almost weekly” since then, and its ‘results’ were presented at yesterday’s Council of Ministers.

The decisions ratified now have to pass through parliament.

As Público intimated last May, it may well be that the Banco de Terras ends up being used to absorb refugees, assigning groups various parcels of land left to abandon.

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