The Forestry Code: only President Dilma’s veto remains

Monday, February 27, 2012

forestBy Luiz Zarref

After the vote on the rural manifesto, the text, written by Congressman Aldo Rebelo in the House of Representatives in June 2010 that details the deconstruction of the Forestry Code, was forwarded to the Senate.

Last December, a new text was approved in the Senate, which had been prepared by Luiz Henrique (PMBD, former governor of Santa Catarina during the creation of the anti-constitutional state law, which ends with the Forestry Code in SC) and Jorge Vianna (PT, former governor of Acre and ex-consultant for Aracruz).

This new proposal by the Senate brought several fresh points to the table, which address other interests of big business. Among them, the freedom of construction for the World Cup and the Olympics in Permanent Preservation Areas (PPAs), the permission to expand shrimp farming which has already caused great devastation and the commercialisation of forests and common property.

Furthermore, the main interest points for the agricultural industry were maintained:

 a)  Amnesty for all deforestation on the borders of rivers and springs was in place until July 2008, forcing the recovery of, at most, half of the areas that today should be preserved;

 b)  Amnesty for the planting of hardwood trees such as eucalyptus and pine in areas with a slope greater than 45° and hilltops. This amnesty is very different from that claimed by rural agriculture, that is to say the maintenance of species such as apple, grape and coffee which have a much longer cycle;

c)   Amnesty for the deforestation of the Legal Reserve (LR) that occurred until 2008 for all the properties with up to four fiscal modules (ranging from 20 to 400 hectares, depending on the region). This exempts these properties from the requirement to preserve 80% of the LR in the Amazonian biome and 40% in the Cerrado. Everything that the agricultural business needed.

d) Deforested areas of the LR can be recomposed with up to 50% of exotic species, increasing the green deserts of eucalyptus and pine. That is to say, the rural properties that need to recompose the LR or PPAs on slopes, hills and river banks, can be replanted with up to 50% eucalyptus! A wonderful thing for the pulp companies since they could even form partnerships with small and medium landowners without having to buy the land.

e) The properties that will have to rebuild or preserve the LR and / or PPAs could compensate for the clearing of a property on another farm that is in the same biome, leaving one conserved and another simply cleared. Thus, there are still issues with fraud and scams, such as the grabbing of untouched public land and the registration of other areas to compensate owners for everything cut down on their farms.

 However, the major news in the Senate’s programme is that unfortunately the federal government sectors, in particular the Ministry for Agriculture and the Ministry for Environment, worked hard for the adoption of the new text.

They sought to build a supposed consensus, creating a false discourse stating the Senate’s document would be better than that of the House of Representatives. As noted, this is an outrageous lie, used to try to confuse and neutralise the growing social movement which is against the destruction of the present Code.

Despite the efforts made by the government and the agricultural business, the popular movement succeeded in securing the votes of many senators, such as Lindbergh Farias (PT / RJ), Cristovam Buarque (PDT / DF), João Capiberibe (PSB / AP), Randolfe Rodrigues (PSOL / AP) and Marinor Brito (PSOL / PA).

Next Steps

Now the project will return to the House of Representatives, where the vote is scheduled for the 6th and 7th of March. Within the House, new proposals for the document cannot be accepted. Members may only fully approve a proposal by the Senate or veto some changes, partially recovering the original text of the approved project in the first report by Aldo Rebelo.

Given this reality, there is only one way for Brazilian society: demand that President Dilma Rousseff vetoes any amnesty and undermining of the PPAs and LRs, concentrated within the chapter on Transitory Provisions. This first quarter is the time to accomplish our mobilisation, demonstrating that Brazilian society is against this text produced by the National Congress.

Popular movements, trade unions, social and environmental groups will focus actions on the 6th of March in several states, showing that all the corners of the country echo the resistance to the destruction implemented by the agricultural industry. On the 7th of March, when the vote is scheduled, we will host a major rally in Brasilia, reflecting the protests across the states and demanding the president’s commitment to not approving a Rural Forestry Code.

For the sake of our forests and our land, veto this Dilma!


What President Dilma has to veto:

- The ability to recover only half of the areas that were cleared on the borders of rivers and springs ending in 2008.

- The permission to plant hardwood in areas with a slope greater than 45° and on hilltops.

- The severance from agreements to recover the LRs deforested upto 2008 for all properties with up to four fiscal modules.

- The authorisation of PPAs and LRs becoming blended with up to 50% exotic species, which would increase the green deserts of eucalyptus and pine.

- The possibility to recover or preserve the LR and / or PPA on another property within the same biome.

- Not permitting the regularisation of the expansion of the shrimp farming in the mangroves.