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Amazon forest code vote delayed

The Brazilian Congress has delayed a final vote on its new forest code legislation until next year, environmental groups reported Friday.

The bill has been in the works for nearly two years, spurred by rural resentment caused by ongoing crackdowns on deforestation, which hit an all-time low this year.  The forest code is a powerful and ecologically progressive law, but many landowners complain that it is also complex and difficult to comply with.

The proposed changes seek to clean the slate and set a new standard, but many activists are concerned that the legislation goes too far by scaling back legitimate protections for sensitive areas and providing what is essentially amnesty for any clearing that took place before 2008. That kind of leniency, they say, sends the wrong signal both to landowners who would seek to break the law and to those who have obeyed it. See our prior coverage for background (‘Brazilian bill weakens Amazon protection’).

It’s unclear exactly why the vote was delayed, although environmentalists claimed at least partial credit. Either way, the delay will give environmentalists and scientists who are opposing the proposed changes additional time to make their case.

Photo:  Greenpeace

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