Photo: President Dilma Rousseff
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff vetoed nine articles of a controversial land-use bill passed by Congress last month and harshly criticized by environmental groups.
The most significant veto concerns a clause related to the size of forested buffer zones landowners must maintain around rivers.
Rousseff’s veto reinserted a requirement that large landowners must maintain a zone of between 5-100 meters (16-327 feet) of native vegetation, depending on the size of the waterway.
Under previous law, that requirement had been 30-500 meters and environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund for Nature say the less stringent restrictions will increase the risk of flooding.
The bill was backed by lawmakers allied with land barons and opposed by environmentalists, who see the revised Forest Code as a step toward greater agribusiness activity in the Amazon and other degraded areas.
“The vetoes were based on what had been the original intent of the bill, meaning not to provide amnesty, not to promote illegal deforestation and to ensure social justice, (centered) on the rights of small farmers,” Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said.
In May, Rousseff vetoed 12 articles of the bill, which was subsequently sent back to Congress.
Among other items vetoed in the final bill, Rousseff also barred landowners from reforesting land near rivers and other sensitive areas with fruit species such as orange and apple trees as opposed to native vegetation.
Teixeira said some further implementing decrees will still be need to be enacted but that the vetoes were necessary to recover the principles contained in the government’s original proposal.