Uncertain Future For Brazilian Forests

As Brazil gears up to host the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, it is being strongly criticized for a failure to stop the destruction of the Amazon rain forest.

At the end of last month, in a partial victory for massive international pressure, Brazilian President Dilma Roussef partially vetoed a logging bill. The bill would have allowed large scale destruction of the Amazon forest to resume and pardoned illegal loggers.

Rousseff opposed the bill, but the country’s powerful farming lobby won over enough MPs in Brazil’s Congress last month to over-rule her.

Rousseff rejected 12 articles from the bill and made 32 modifications to the text.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said that the partial veto broke up “an already complicated piece of legislation [and] will make the revised Forest Code extraordinarily difficult to implement.”

WWF director general Jim Leape said:

For the last decade, Brazil has been on a path of economic and environmental progress. President Rousseff’s statement creates an uncertain future for Brazilian forests, considering that Congress could still cut forest protections even further.

One vetoed element reportedly included amnesty provisions, which were conditional in that perpetrators must enroll in a government-sponsored conservation program and abide by the rules — though there were no clear guidelines for these programs. But the coalition group Comitę Brasil in Defense of the Forests said that amnesties in the new Forest Code will absolve previous illegal deforesters of fines, and remove obligations to completely restore illegally deforested areas.

They also say that:

Illegal deforestation carried out around springs and headwaters, in mangrove swamps and other wetlands, has been pardoned.

Protections for hilltops and other sensitive areas have been reduced, which will increase the risk of landslides.

The amount of forest that must be left intact along riverbanks – previously ranging from 30-500 meters wide – has been severely reduced, and now ranges from only 5 metres to 100 metres, which will increase the risk of flooding.

The restoration of vegetation alongside rivers and other sensitive areas can now be accomplished using eucalyptus and other non-native species, allowing biodiversity-rich forests to be replaced by monoculture plantations.

For the BBC, Paulo Cabral wrote that:

President Rousseff opted for a solution often used here for controversial issues: try to leave everybody more or less reasonably satisfied, if not totally happy, and postpone tough discussions for later.

She vetoed some aspects of the new law that most concerned environmentalists, such as loopholes reducing mandatory reforestation and an amnesty for past deforestation.

Cabral notes that Presidential degrees replacing some bill articles still have to go through a divided Congress.

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

Greenpeace blocked a freighter from being loaded with iron in the port of Sao Luis in the northern Brazilian state of Maranhao in protest against the partial veto and because the pig iron industry is driving destruction in the Amazon as it requires huge amounts of wood charcoal to be produced.

Said Kenzo Juca Ferreira, of WWF-Brazil:

With the eyes of the world on Brazil for Rio+20, we will keep up the pressure to protect our forests. The whole world needs to know of the huge discrepancy between talk and action in Brazil.

Related stories:

Brazil Goes Backwards on Amazon Deforestation

Dangerous Forestry Law Partially Vetoed By Brazil

Scientists Warn Climate Change May Be Irreversible

Map by visionshare


Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago



"The Earth is not only an environment. "She" is "Us". Her trees are our lungs, and her waterways are our circulatory system. Her cry reflects the cry of our own species as we disrespect, destroy and exploit one another. "We" are the generation that has perpetuated the practices that have created the deterioration of our Holy Mother Earth, and we stand accused. In this song, the voices of our children plead and demand for restoration of the planet. There is only one force that is capable of achieving what they now ask of us..."

QUOTED from the above site

Kasia Y.
Kasia Y.5 years ago

Cease importing from Brazil. Starve them into peaceful submission.

Anna M.
Anna M5 years ago

At last, have mercy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edo R.
Edo R5 years ago

Thank you for raising awareness!

Douglas Trent
Douglas Trent5 years ago

Most of the wood from clearing the Amazon up to now has not been sold, exported or used in Brazil, where I am writing from. Much of the deforestation up to now has been in the northern part of Mato Grosso state, shown in the south central part of the image map above. This has been replaced largely by corporately owned soy and cotton plantations, which require constant lime fertilizer treatments. Very little is in cattle production or in very low level cattle production, with few heads. None of the meat is exported to the USA, I understand, because of hoof and mouth controls. Very few people benefit from the large scale plantations, and it is these and others in the agricultural field that want much more liberty in what they can do with their land. Our current Forest Code requires that deforestation along a river's edge, must be several meters, depending on the size of the stream or river. Many developed countries so not have such strict laws.

The problem for the environment, is on two levels. The big picture is the hydrological cycle, which changes if the forest cover is removed, and we do not know the effect of such a change other than that less evaporation to recharge the clouds moving west, means the forest left standing will dry out, including the national and state parks and reserves.

The next level is a species level. Brazil has more biodiversity, more species, than any other country. This means that there are fewer individuals of each species, making th

Alexander B.
Alexander B.5 years ago

The problem that away from a few scientist no one want to see is that we are far to many people on this planet. No familyplaning takes place, there are at least 5 billion humans who are to much.

Where should all they live. This poor illegal logger has a family, when his children are grown they want to live somewhere as well and their children then later as well and so on. cant work in the long run.

Nowadays everyone with children is to blame. Even the ones here in the west. We are the buyers of these logged forests. We complain but we support this buy our consumption of meat and wood. We are to many as well. Everywhere.

Arild Warud

Worrying news.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Florence E "when you try to make everyone happy, no one wins" It's hard to tell if that's true, because no one is trying to make everyone happy. It is just one surrender after the other to the unprincipled irresponsible big money increasing profit [profit is not a crime, remember ?] at the expense of everybody and anybody, YOUR children and grandchildren, and the entire world.

Kelly Rogers5 years ago

If we can be on the look out for Palm Oil in food and know where lumber comes from. Join Orangutans Men Of the Forest to sign petitions for the rain forest. Along with anything else you can think of Palm Oil is in Soo many things. Lets all start read labels again for the animals

Christine Stewart

Why can't the gov't encourage other ways to make money other than just cutting down the rain forest? They can grow shade grown coffee and cacao, brazil nuts and other exotic fruits, or at least do very careful logging that doesn't disrupt the whole forest....