Brazilian Senate Approves New Forest Code
BRASILIA, Brazil, Dec. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Today the Brazilian Senate approved the proposed Forest Code revisions, which will change agricultural legislation and allow Brazil to continue as a leader in environmental preservation while maintaining high levels of agricultural exports. “It is undoubtedly the most restrictive and rigorous land-ownership legislation in the world,” said senator Katia Abreu, president of the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA). “For example, the new code mandates that all rural Amazonian land owners must preserve 80% of their property as untouched land reserves.”
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The CNA, which represents over five million Brazilian farmers, estimates that if the Forest Code revisions did not become law, Brazil could lose up to 20% of the land currently used for farming and livestock. “This could result in more expensive food, a rise in inflation and fewer jobs for Brazilians, as well as a decrease in exports and a significant drop in Brazil’s GDP.”
The CNA recognizes that the final text is not ideal, but it is the best outcome possible after a comprehensive democratic debate. “It is a step forward, especially given Brazil’s need to regulate food production and avoid deforestation,” said Senator Abreu.
The revised Forest Code will replace the original 1965 legislation, which has subsequently been amended several times by various administrations and is now difficult to interpret and enforce. According to the CNA, 90% of Brazilian farmers were acting unlawfully under current agricultural legislation. Some of these crimes are retroactive, due to previous Forest Code revisions that raised the amount of land farmers are required to leave untouched. Now these farmers find themselves on the wrong side of the law, being penalized for acts that occurred before any change to the original Forest Code.
Before this new revision, farmers could not obtain funding to initiate, maintain or grow their food production. The new code will regularize the farmers’ situation without granting amnesty to those who deforested illegally before 2008. This law requires landholders to stay in strict compliance with environmental changes, and will subsequently convert their penalties into environmental restoration services that the farmers will be required to carry out.
“The new law is not perfect, nor does it fully satisfy all interests or all points of view,” says Senator Abreu. “The Forest Code is a human work, and above all a political work, and as we know, the point of politics is to build consensus through compromise and commitment. Politics is not about absolute truths. The new law comes as a democratically constructed consensus, and as such, will have the moral strength necessary to ensure compliance.”
Keeping the Forests Alive
According to the CNA, the new law aims to consolidate the land used for farming without increasing deforestation. The legal reserve requirement remains intact, stating that landowners must preserve 80% of the their holdings in areas such as the Amazon rainforest, and 20-35% in other parts of Brazil.
The text, which was approved by the House of Representatives last May, also ensures the preservation of vegetation growing on hills, mountains and along riverbanks–known as the Areas of Permanent Preservation (APPs).
Today, only 27.7% of Brazilian territory is used for agriculture and livestock, while 61% of the country consists of preserved native vegetation.
“The environment is an essential part of agriculture. We are more dependent on nature than any other economic activity, and we want our forests to remain standing,” said Senator Abreu.
Agriculture and livestock account for 22.4% of Brazil’s GDP and employ one-third of the country’s workforce, who produce food, fiber and biofuels.
According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Brazil is the third largest exporter of agricultural products in the world, behind only the United States and the European Union. It is the world’s largest exporter of beef, poultry, coffee, sugar and orange juice. The FAO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECO) predict that between now and 2019, Brazil will experience greater development in this sector than any other country in the world.
Data released on Monday from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reveals that deforestation in the Amazon region has dropped 11% (an area of 2,408 square miles) between August of 2010 and July of 2011 in comparison to the same time the previous year. According to the INPE, this is the highest reduction in deforestation since the PRODES System (Project Monitoring Deforestation in the Amazon) began tracking deforestation in 1988.
For more information about the new Brazilian Forest Code, please visit: http://www.canaldoprodutor.com.br/forestcode
- According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), private landholdings comprise about 24% of the Amazon, where the cultivation of crops and livestock is allowed. The other 76%–approximately 396 million hectares of forest lands–is the property of the Brazilian government and remains untouched.
- Eighty-three percent of the Amazon is currently preserved.
- In the last three decades, Brazilian grain production has grown 300%, while the land area used for cultivation grew only 32.4%–a 151% increase in productivity.
- The Forest Code revisions have been subject to review and revision by various groups and interests since 2009, including a committee in the House of Representatives, 33 public hearings in Brasilia and in 16 different states, members of the judiciary, environmental analysts and researchers, farmers, environmentalists and lawmakers.
About the CNA
The Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (Confederacao Brasileira da Agricultura e Pecuaria) represents the rural labor force, and consists of 27 state federations and 2,142 unions operating throughout the country. With headquarters in Brasilia, the CNA acts as the national forum for debate on agriculture and livestock, and defends the economic rights and interests of agricultural laborers.
About Senator Katia Abreu
Katia Abreu is a senator from the state of Tocantins, and has been president of the CNA since 2008. Previously, she was the president of the Tocantins Federation of Agriculture and Livestock, a position she held for four consecutive terms between 1995 and 2005.
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SOURCE CNA – Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock