Feeling pressure from the upcoming Rio+20 Summit, Brazilian leadership recently vetoed parts of a new forestry code that would have opened up the Amazon to further deforestation. It was just a month ago that the country’s Congress approved a major overhaul of its 1965 forestry law, a decision that thrilled the powerful agri-business lobby who pushed it forward.
The proposed revisions prompted an outcry from environmental advocates who have worked for years to establish greater protections for the flora and fauna of the Amazon. Following approval of the draft bill, over 26,000 members of the Care2 community signed a petition asking the Brazilian government to stop it from moving forward.
Even though the acidic soil of the Amazon rainforest lacks the nutrients necessary to support successful farming ventures, agricultural development continues to be a leading cause of its destruction. In order to clear large tracts of land for cultivation, many farmers employ slash and burn techniques which to release nutrients locked up in vegetation and produce a layer of nutrient-rich material that will support crops. Unfortunately, this layer only lasts for a few growing cycles. To compensate, farm operations use copious amount of chemical fertilizers which often wash into local streams, poisoning aquatic life.
In June, world leaders will gather in Rio de Janero to discuss the need for a green economy and strategies for sustainable development. Brazilian officials must have realized that weakening regulations on logging and ranching operations in the vast South American forest just weeks before the Summit would likely draw global criticism.
President Dilma Rousseff removed 12 controversial articles and made 31 modifications to the bill which was to be published Monday in a special executive measure that enters into effect immediately. Unfortunately, some of vetoed sections included requirements for reforestation and reductions in the amount of forest land left intact along riverbanks.
Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said that in vetoing parts of the bill the government was seeking to ensure that there was no loss of areas of the Amazon and protected sensitive ecosystems. She said the government also acted to prevent amnesties for those who had illegally cleared areas in the past, to preserve small landowners, and hold timber producers responsible for protecting the environment.
Thank you to all the Care2 members who took action and helped prompt this important decision to save the rainforest!
Image via Thinkstock
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