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19 Dec 2011: Brazil's Forest Code Will Lead
To Rise in Deforestation, Critics Say

Environmental advocates say a controversial overhaul of Brazil’s Forest Code will lead to an increase in illegal deforestation and send a mixed message about Brazil’s commitment to preserving its rainforests. While advocates of the legislation approved by the Senate last week say it will require property owners to preserve 80 percent of their forested land, opponents say loopholes will allow farmers to clear a significantly larger portion of forest and to replace as much as 50 percent of illegally cleared forest with exotic species rather than native trees. Nationwide, opponents predict, farmers will be required to restore only about half of the 212,000 square miles of forest they would have been required to restore under the current law. The changes come as Brazil pledges to reduce carbon emissions by nearly 40 percent below projected levels by 2020. “Brazil has positioned itself as a country that’s committed itself to saving the forest cover to the benefit of the world,” Christian Poirier, the Brazil director for Amazon Watch, told the Washington Post. “The new forest code flouts all that.” According to a pair of Russian scientists, similar revisions to Russia’s forest code in 2007 produced a spike in illegal deforestation.

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