Brazil to Split Ibama to Allow Focus on Licensing

Brazil's federal government will split environmental protection agency Ibama into two separate agencies, deputy environment minister Joao Capobianco said in a ministry statement.

Ibama, which is part of the environment ministry, will continue to carry out licensing, supervision and control of environmental crimes and damage. The first new agency will take care of licensing and oversight and the second will manage existing natural reserves.

"This split will allow Ibama to focus on licensing," a ministry spokesperson told BNamericas.

In addition, the environment ministry will spin off wildlife and nature reserve management activities from Ibama to a new agency called the Brazilian institute of biodiversity conservation.

The ministry also will create an internal affairs investigation department in Ibama, the statement said.

The changes were unveiled during a meeting of Brazil's national environment council Conama shortly after environment minister Marina Silva announced a restructuring plan for the ministry.

The news comes among growing pressure from other ministries and energy companies to speed up the licensing process.

But the Ibama split aims to strengthen environmental issues not weaken them, government news service Radiobras quoted Silva as saying.

"I don't know why people think infrastructure projects of strategic importance to the country can be licensed ignoring the law," she reportedly said.

Environmental NGOs long have requested a move to separate licensing from other activities in Brazil.

"It's a welcome measure as long as the quality of licensing and supervision is maintained," Greenpeace campaign director Marcelo Furtado told BNamericas. "There is still a lot to improve in Ibama."

Ibama has spent four years restructuring its licensing department by hiring more than 100 new technical employees and investing in an online licensing system.


Environment minister Marina Silva is preparing to name a new Ibama president to replace outgoing Marcus Barros.

One candidate is former federal police director Paulo Lacerda, who probed environmental crimes.

"The minister will consult him and the justice ministry, but she has an alternative list of names which she calls her A, B, C, D and E plans," the spokesperson said.

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