In 2010, the Brazilian government made it mandatory that all rural properties be mapped and registered in a database, known as the CAR (Cadastro Ambiental Rural). The CAR database holds geospatial data on property boundaries as well as environmental information on rural agricultural production. This database is intended to be a strategic tool for controlling, monitoring, and reducing deforestation in Brazil. Registration in the CAR is also used by financial institutions as a criterion in the consideration of credit worthiness for both public and private agricultural loans.
From a supply chain perspective, the CAR represents an effective tool to increase transparency of ranch-level practices. This will allow an unprecedented level of understanding of deforestation patterns and land-use dynamics in beef, leather, and tallow supply chains. While this progress will greatly support companies actively committed to responsible sourcing, it will expose those companies that have not acted appropriately to exclude ranchers involved with deforestation and illegal activities from their supply chains.
While the CAR represents a significant step forward for Brazilian agriculture, it is important to recognize its limitations - the CAR, in of itself, cannot prevent deforestation, it only allows it to be detected. Also, the CAR does not grant land title. It only registers an individual with a property claim, and therefore must be used in conjunction with other legal documentation to verify the claim.
To ensure the most effective application of the CAR, efforts should be made to link it to public-private initiatives that encourage verified zero deforestation supply chains.