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Issue #1570      24 October 2012

Rousseff pushes for tougher logging law

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff last week vetoed part of a new forest law in a bid to make it tougher on big agricultural interests. Her goal was to recover elements of the new law that had been removed by parliament and “maintain the balance between social and environmental” needs, said Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira.

It is meant to be a fresh start on policing deforestation in the giant country and to provide incentives for landowners to comply. A forest law was first passed in 1965, but has been hobbled by lax or nonexistent enforcement.

It required landowners to keep a portion of their land forested, 80 percent for states in the Amazon and 20 percent elsewhere – percentages that have not changed in the new law.

But there were no incentives to comply and little effort to enforce the law, leading many farmers to break it. The new law seeks to wipe the slate clean by giving those who illegally cleared land a way out of prosecution. They must sign and act on an agreement to bring their property back to compliance.

Medium-size properties will also have to keep wooded areas 20 metres deep along rivers and the owners of the largest properties will have to preserve a 30-metre buffer of trees.

“We do not believe the government should cut back environmental protection requirements for large and medium landowners,” said Ms Teixeira. “There is a balance, and we found that balance.”

The decree also instituted a Rural Environmental Registry, an electronic database to help enforce environmental laws.

Morning Star  

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