In the Constitution of 19881, the environment is mentioned in Title VIII “From Social Order” in Chapter VI “Environment in Article 225.
“All have the right to an ecologically balanced environment. Which is an asset of common use and essential to a healthy quality of life, and both the Government and the community shall have the duty to defend and preserve it for present and future generations.
Paragraph 1 - In order to ensure the effectiveness of this right, it is incumbent upon the Government to:
1. preserve and restore the essential ecological processes and provide for the ecological treatment of species and ecosystems;
2. preserve the diversity and integrity of the genetic patrimony of the country and to control entities engaged in research and manipulation of genetic material:
3. define, in all units of the Federation, territorial spaces and their components which are to receive special protection. any alterations and suppressions being allowed only by means of law, and any use which may harm the integrity of the attributes which justify their protection being forbidden:
4. demand. in the manner prescribed by law, for the installation of works and activities which may potentially cause significant degradation of the environment, a prior environmental impact study, which shall be made public;
5. control the production, sale and use of techniques, methods or substances which represent a risk to life, the quality of life and the environment;
6. promote environment education in all school levels and public awareness of the need to preserve the environment;
7. protect the fauna and the flora, with prohibition, in the manner prescribed by law, of all practices which represent a risk to their ecological function, cause the extinction of species or subject animals to cruelty.
Paragraph 2 - Those who exploit mineral resources shall be required to restore the degraded environment, in accordance with the technical solutions demanded by the competent public agency, as provided by law.
Paragraph 3 - Procedures and activities considered as harmful to the environment shall subject the infractors, be they individuals or legal entities, to penal and administrative sanctions, without prejudice to the obligation to repair the damages caused.
Paragraph 4 - The Brazilian Amazonian Forest, the Atlantic Forest, the Serra do Mar, the Pantanal Mato-Grossense and the coastal zone are part of the national patrimony, and they shall be used, as provided by law, under conditions which ensure the preservation of the environment, therein included the use of mineral resources.
Paragraph 5 - The unoccupied lands or lands seized by the states through discriminatory actions which are necessary to protect the natural ecosystems are inalienable.
Paragraph 6 - Power plants operated by nuclear reactor shall have their location defined in federal law and may not otherwise be installed.”
The Environmental Policy Act, 1981,’s objectives are: “the preservation, enhancement and restoration of environmental quality essential to life, aiming at insuring socio-economic development conditions, attending to the interests of National Security and to the protection of human dignity in the Nation, through the fulfillment of the following conditions:
1. Government action to maintain ecologic equilibrium, considering the environment as public property to be necessarily guaranteed and protected, taking account of its beneficial use to the public;
2. Rational use of the soil, sub-soil, water and air;
3. Planning and control of the use of environmental resources;
4. Protection of ecosystems, including the preservation of representative areas;
5. Control and zoning of potentially pollutant or pollutant activities;
6. Incentives to study and research technologies for the rational use and protection of environmental resources;
7. Observation of the state of environmental quality;
8. Reclamation of areas of degradation;
9. Protection of areas threatened by degradation;
10. Environmental education at all levels of instruction, including community education, intended to enable them to participate actively in the defence of the environment”
Brazil has also established, by the 1989 Act, the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), an administratively and financially autonomous federal authority in charge of environment protection.
For further information regarding environmental policies in Brazil and protection of natural resources, please consult the official website of the Ministry of the Environment (also in English).