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Brazil Forest Code reform avoids showdown leading into Rio+20

June 1, 2012

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff may have narrowly avoided a showdown on the national Forest Code reform debate late last week, but remaining provisions in the bill still pose a significant threat to the tropical forests in the Amazon.

The Forest Code restricts the amount of privately owned rainforest that can be cleared for development, and has played a key role over the past few decades to protect the Amazonian rainforest. Pressured by landowners and agribusiness groups, Brazilian policymakers have proposed updates to the legislation, prompting strong opposition from the Brazilian public.

The president won some praise from environmentalists by vetoing a number of line items that would have reduced the required percentage of forestland spared from clearing and granted partial amnesty to landowners who illegally cut down trees.

However, there are still several provisions remaining that would give landowners loopholes to clear forests. The bill heads back to the legislature, giving environmentalists from all over the world who will be in Rio for the Earth summit some fodder for discussion about Brazil’s commitment to forest preservation.

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