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Brazil Goes Backwards on Amazon Deforestation

Brazil Goes Backwards on Amazon Deforestation

Brazil’s Congress has voted to relax laws which protect the Amazon from deforestation. The new forest code now goes to President Dilma Rousseff, who is being urged to veto the bill or at least some of its clauses.

Rousseff opposed the bill, but the country’s powerful farming lobby won over enough MPs to over-rule her and her party. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace called the vote: “O início do fim das florestas — the beginning of the end of the rainforest.”

“Brazil has been held hostage to the interests of the agriculture lobby from the outset,” said Paulo Adário of Greenpeace in Brazil. “The agriculture lobby has done everything it could to push through its demands.”

WWF says the law grants amnesty to those who have destroyed rainforest and opens the floodgates to further destruction.

The amnesty is conditional in that perpetrators must enroll in a government-sponsored conservation program and abide by the rules — but there are no clear guidelines for these programs.

Increased enforcement of the Forest Code, which dates back to 1965, has slowed deforestation in recent years, with authorities using satellite images to track clearance. Under that code, landowners must conserve a percentage of their terrain forested, ranging from 20% in some regions to 80% in the Amazon.

Jeff Tollefson points out in Nature: “The fear is that weakening the law will reverse this progress and unleash a wave of new deforestation by convincing farmers and ranchers that Brazil doesn’t have the political will to truly enforce the law.”

Critics of the law say it will encourage more land clearance because government agencies have proved unable to determine when a plot was deforested. Under the new bill, farmers will be able to cultivate land closer to hilltops and riverbanks, which are especially vulnerable to erosion if trees are chopped down.

Watch: ‘Greenpeace: Stopping Amazon Deforestation’:

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Deforestation collage by Adrian Kenyon to benefit HUTAN

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113 comments

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7:25AM PDT on Sep 22, 2012

Talk about going backwards.

1:48PM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

Brasil you can do better.

4:06AM PDT on Jun 7, 2012

:(

7:58PM PDT on May 2, 2012

Some of us don't want to commit mass suicide and sacrifice all life as well for the greed of the farming, ranching corporate bastards.

1:24AM PDT on May 2, 2012

How can you trust a nation who does not look after this vital area of the world. Boycott them, do not holiday here. Hit them in the pocket.

12:36AM PDT on May 1, 2012

Thanks for sharing

10:11PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Humans suck, as usual. It's all about the buck.

9:31PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Lets hope President Rousseff has the wisdom and courage to veto this legislation.

7:51PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

We need to send a collective Global Meassage to the agriculture interests that have gained control of the Brazilian Government. We need a Worldwide Boycott of Brazilian Produce, that will get them to wake up!

4:57PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

This is so sad but what do you expect from a third world country. Brazil is starting to get like China. I would have never figured Brazil to stoop this low.

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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