Brazilian Senate passes destructive new Forest Code

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Greenpeace today strongly condemned the Brazilian Senate’s vote to approve the new Forest Code. The proposal is billed as a rainforest protection measure but it has been so badly altered that it has become nothing more than an invite to the bulldozers and chainsaws to come to the forests

Greenpeace today strongly condemned the Brazilian Senate’s vote to approve the new Forest Code. The proposal is billed as a rainforest protection measure but it has been so badly altered that it has become nothing more than an invite to the bulldozers and chainsaws to come to the forests.

Despite multiple delays and a last minute effort from scientists, environmentalists, scientists, religious leaders and social movements to restore sanity with amendments designed to make the Code an effective measure for forest protection, the Senate, under intense pressure from the rural sector, has voted in a law that would open the Amazon up for widespread destruction.

“The approved text is a disaster for the Amazon and all Brazilian forests. The new Forest Code   invites the rapid advance of deforestation and it has already caused damage in the Amazon. With the promise of amnesty, large-scale forest criminals will go back to their old ways and the Amazon will once again face large scale destruction”, said Paulo Adario, Amazon Campaign Director at Greenpeace Brazil.

Discussions on the changes of the Forest Code have lasted more than a decade, including the two-year messy legislative process in the National Congress. And, while the project was in the House of Representatives for a year and a half, the Senate only had six months to submit its final report. With such a small window, debate was limited and incomplete as it rushed through the four commissions. In effect, the final result threatens to turn back the clock on several years of struggle against deforestation. The vote will now go to the Chamber of Deputies, where the rural sector has even more influence. The Chamber is expected to pass the new Forest Code in the next two weeks and then it will go to President Dilma for veto or approval.

President Dilma Rousseff is the only real chance to stop this regressive Forest Code in its tracks, before it is delivered on a silver platter to the agribusiness sector.

Through the current Forest Code and a network of protected areas and Indigenous Lands, Brazil has made significant gains in fighting deforestation over this past decade. However, Brazil is backtracking following heavy and well organized attacks from the agribusiness sector on the Forest Code. This powerful economic sector might have finally forced the Congress to dismantle the protective environmental legislation represented by the Forest Code.

“The demands made by the rural caucus were all agreed and followed. The Federal Prosecutor and scientists have said that this law is not good for the environment and will be legally challenged. To avoid an environmental disaster, President Dilma should veto it. There is still time,” added Adario. “If President Dilma does not veto the law she will surely face international condemnation and be known as a friend of the forest criminal rather than a friend of the forests”.

Brazil has committed to preserve the Amazon forest, for the sake of biodiversity, the climate and for current and future generations. If confirmed by President Dilma, the new forest law will also compromise the international agreements former President Lula signed during the December 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, committing Brazil to ambitious CO2 emissions reduction targets. President Dilma was in Copenhagen as Lula’s Chief of Staff and helped seal the deal on these commitments. Dilma needs to pay attention to these commitments, as she will be held accountable for her actions by the global community next year when she hosts the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio.

Next years conference comes twenty years after the historic summit in Rio that catalyzed the international community’s action on environment and development.

(Fonte Greenpeace)