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BRAZIL
Rousseff’s dilemmas
5/11/2011
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Lawmakers to vote on controversial Forest Law that could ease restrictions on deforestation.

Less than six months after taking office, President Dilma Rousseff and some Brazilian lawmakers are looking to trying to maintain Brazil´s reputation as the economic powerhouse of the Hemisphere, ensuring that it leads in growth. But some policies could have severe environmental and social costs, some warn.

Rousseff has staunchly defended large-scale infrastructure and investment projects, such as the contentious Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River.

Now, she will have her say on an eight-decade-old Forest Law. Lawmakers are scheduled to vote this month, after several delays, on changes to the legislation, which states that 80 percent of each property in the Amazon region have to remain forested, but now changes could increase the amount that could be deforested.

Environmental activists say this would erase Brazil´s headway in slowing deforestation in the Amazon region, known as the “world´s lungs” for the amount of carbon dioxide it absorbs.

But the new proposal would reduce this protected amount to 50 percent, but defenders of this, including federal Dep. Aldo Rebelo, of the Communist Party, who made the proposal, argue that it will mean the measure will be more strictly enforced. He and others have said that many farmers violate the current standards.

But others are not so convinced.

“The proposed changes also would roll back one of the most effective pieces of legislation to protect forests and biodiversity in the country, while at the same time slowing Brazil´s reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” said the World Wildlife Foundation.“The legislation opens up the possibility of doing so for ‘any area that is to be dedicated to the production of foodstuffs.´”

This could mean soy farming, which largely goes to ethanol production and animal feed, could be included.

Rousseff could veto the amendment if it is approved.
-Latinamerica Press. 


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