Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted yesterday in favor of a measure easing forest preservation requirements in the Amazon region. The vote comes only a week after Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira announced the creation of a high-level deforestation commission tasked with “suffocating deforestation.”
Under the new law, commercial farmers would be allowed to clear previously restricted areas such as hilltops and slopes, along with land only 50 feet away from rivers and streams. It would also make it easier for landholders to meet conservation quotas for their properties and offer amnesty to some who have illegally cleared land in the past.
Supporters of the amendments argue the changes are necessary in order to boost agricultural production and economic development. Critics and environmentalists contend that current laws are already too weak and poorly enforced. Production can be increased, they say, by increasing output in areas already cleared for farming.
The bill will now move to the senate, where it will likely be amended before reaching President Dilma Rousseff. Ms. Rousseff has said she will veto any legislation that includes amnesty for prior deforestation violations.