House of Representatives approves changes to Forest Law

24 maio 2011    
Tonight (Tuesday, May 24) an extraordinary session of the Brazilian House of Representatives voted in favour of the latest version of the draft law presented by representative Aldo Rebelo (Communist Party of Brazil -PC do B , São Paulo) on May 11 and which profoundly alters the provisions of the Brazilian Forest law. 410 parliamentarians voted in favour, 63 against and there was one abstention.

The representatives are expected to continue into the night and vote on separate amendments known as 'destaques' (detachments) put forward by the various parties and proposing the alteration or the removal of certain points in the text that was just approved. That means that until that process has terminated it is impossible to analyse with certainty the real impact of the changes which may eventually be intensified.

After voting has been completed in the House of Representatives, the draft legislation will go on to the Senate where it may be subject to further modification. Once the process in the legislative branch has been finalised the text of the law will be submitted to the President of the Republic who is empowered to sanction it or veto it.


During the day, conservation militants from WWF-Brazil braved the chilly hours before dawn in the Federal Capital this morning to give voice to around 200 trees in the areas of the Ministries Esplanade and the annexes to the House of Representatives. Each tree received a poster with a text balloon on it with a reminder of how important forests are to the Brazilian economy, to the maintenance of ecological equilibrium and to agricultural and livestock production activities as well. The action was inspired by the SOS Forests movement which brings together a series of civil society entities with the common aim of protecting Brazil's natural heritage, now threatened once again by backward sectors of the agribusiness sector represented in parliament by the block of 'ruralista' parliamentarians.

Last Sunday, the mobilisation that took place in São Paulo against the Draft Legislation (PL-1876/1999) that proposes alterations to the Brazilian Forest Law attracted 1,500 people to the Ibirapuera Park. It was a demonstration of just how concerned the public is about the proposed alterations now before the House of Representatives.

Brazilian artistes repudiate proposed changes to Forest Law

Actors Victor Fasano and Christiane Torloni, with their long history of involvement in environmental issues, were present in the Brazilian House of Representatives this Tuesday (May 24) to declare their repudiation of the proposed amendment modifying the Forest Law. The actors are responsible for the campaign 'Amazon Forever' which collected 1.2 million signatures in 2008 for a petition that also addressed the risks involved in changing the current environmental legislation.

"We are here representing more than a million Brazilians that wish to have their forests protected. It is unthinkable to vote so hastily on something so important. Great danger lies in this urgency to vote," declared Christiane Torloni.

Victor Fasano also defended the idea of much more in-depth discussion. "We are in favour of producing a good text for the country with all sides giving and taking a little. The environment however has already given too much and cannot afford to lose any more," he remarked.

"The problem arises when you try to impose a text like the present one, that only defends the interests of big businessmen in the agribusiness sector", he declared.

Environment Ministers

On Monday (23), ten former Brazilian Ministers of the Environment who occupied the post at different times in the years from 1973 to 2010 expressed their extreme concern with the possibility that the amendment presented by representative Aldo Rebelo was voted. The former ministers were unanimous in underscoring the harmful nature of the text that is currently before the house and in defending the idea that the voting on the draft legislation should be put off to a later date to give Brazilian society more time for wider discussion of the issue.