May 25, 2012
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff today rejected 12 of 84 articles in a controversial bill that aims to relax restrictions on deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. The Brazilian government will announce the full
details of the cuts on Monday.
Environmentalists had pressured Rousseff to outright veto the measure, which they said could reverse Brazil’s progress in reducing its deforestation rate. But a presidential veto could have been overruled by Congress.
The revised version of the Forest Code raised concerns among greens and scientists for provisions that
would have granted amnesty for illegal deforestation and reduced the amount of forest landowners are required to protect. The looser Forest Code seemed to be opposed by the general public, according to surveys conducted by environmentalists. The Forest Code revision was pushed by agroindustrial interests in the Congress.
The revision put Rousseff in an awkward position ahead of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which Brazil is hosting next month. Had she approved the measure in full, it would have undermined the conference. Had she vetoed the bill, her veto would have likely been nullified by Congress. Thus her partial vote had been expected.
The implications of the new Forest Code won’t be known until Dilma’s office issues her executive order Monday.
“President Rousseff has apparently acceded to Brazilian public opinion in vetoing the most flagrantly irresponsible sections of the ranchers’ Forest Code, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” said Jennifer Haverkamp, International Climate Program Director at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in a press release. “What these vetoes really mean for the future of the forest — and whether the law can be effectively enforced — will depend on the specifics of the executive order (Medida Provisória) that the President will issue on Monday.”
But environmental groups were already criticizing her decision not to completely reject the bill.
“President Dilma’s vague delivery of vetoes and modifications to new Forest Code leaves the people of Brazil without any assurances that the Amazon will be protected,” said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Brazil’s Amazon Campaign Director, in a statement. “One thing is clear, Dilma has ignored the 80 percent of Brazilians who opposed the changes to the current Forest Code and all those that demanded a full veto.”
“For the last decade, Brazil has been on a path of economic and environmental progress. President Rousseff’s statement today creates an uncertain future for Brazilian forests, considering the Congress could still cut forest protections even further,” added Jim Leape, WWF International Director General, in a press release.
The Brazilian Amazon accounts for more than 60 percent of the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest. The region stores tens of billions of carbon, is home to millions of species, and provides ecosystem services to much of the South American continent — roughly 70 percent of South America’s GDP is produced in areas within the rain shadow of the Amazon. Scientists fear that continued deforestation could reduce the resilience of the Amazon to climate change, potentially tipping much of the ecosystem from rainforest to savanna and diminishing its capacity to generate rainfall.
- What will Brazil’s President Dilma do? (spiritandanimal.wordpress.com)
- THE BRAZILIAN CONGRESS HAS JUST PASSED A CATASTROPHIC FORESTRY BILL that gives loggers & farmers free rein to cut down …PETITION (spiritandanimal.wordpress.com)
- Brazilians demand President Dilma protect the Amazon (greenpeace.org)
- Brazil port blocked over Amazon law /Veto parcial mantém florestas sob risco (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)