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In 2012, one of the most sensitive and controversial pieces of Brazilian legislation was finally approved – the new Forestry Code, whose previous version dated back to 1965.
For months, the proposal generated fierce arguments and passionate debates. Various ministries in the Dilma administration participated in the discussions, in an effort to mediate divergent positions. With the full knowledge that new legislation would eventually be enacted by the federal congress, the administration took action to construct legislation that would emphasize respect for the environment as well as agricultural production, in a development model that would balance both considerations.
In the end, following the approval of a bill by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, a broad mobilization within civil society petitioned President Dilma to veto line items of the legislation that could negatively impact the environment or other related matters. The president took action on several of these demands, crafting a new Forestry Code that was as balanced as possible.
Following a review of the approved legislation from various federal ministries – Environment; Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply; Agrarian Development; Planning, Budget and Management; Mines and Energy; Science, Technology and Innovation; Cities – and the Attorney General’s Office, President Dilma used her line item veto authority to strike from the legislation those aspects that were contrary to the public interest or unconstitutional.
A cornerstone of the new legislation were the principles of not granting amnesty and the discouragement of illegal deforestation. Under the new Forestry Code, all those upon whose lands illegal deforestation has taken place are obligated to restore forests on such properties. And as a means of ensuring social justice, the law establishes differentiated obligations based upon the size of given properties. Thus, on those properties that consist of up to four taxable modules (where one module in the Amazon is approximately 100 hectares), recovery of illegally deforested areas will be proportional to the size of a given property; on larger properties, 100% recovery of deforested areas must take place.
The new law strengthens the obligation to regularize the agrarian and environmental status of rural properties, particularly through the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR).
To implement the CAR , the Dilma administration created and placed at the disposal of all states an electronic system, accessible via www.car.gov.br, through which the compulsory, nationwide registration of all rural properties can be carried out. By early August 2014, 285,000 properties had been registered using the National Rural Environmental Registry System (SICAR).
The CAR now reveals those natural resources that are available on all rural properties in Brazil and helps the nation to better understand their contribution to biodiversity. Rural landowners can begin the recovery of permanent preservation areas and the public can objectively monitor compliance with environmental legislation. The CAR also allows for property owners to be rewarded for environmental services carried out on their lands, thereby offering incentives for the development of a new forest economy.