The Brazilian Forest Code restricts landowners’ uses of the land. Changes in property rights are therefore the core element of the program. In this paper the new institutional literature on property rights is used to analyze the main difficulties involved in such a re-specification of rights. Four concepts from this literature are described and applied to better understand the issues that have hindered the program in the past and that affect the current version of the program initiated in 2012: (i) property rights as a ‘bundle of rights’, (ii) evolution of property rights, (iii) path dependence; and Ostrom’s 8 design principles. The paper argues that the key issue for the Forest Code is the level of uncertainty of the gap between the de jure and de facto specification of property rights.
property rights; Forest Code; Brazil; land policy