March 07, 2012Source: mongabay.com
Brazil's Congress will delay its vote on a controversial revision to its forest code, which regulates how much forest can be legally chopped down, reports Brazilian state media.
Agencia Brasil said the vote has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 13, to allow more time to rally support for the bill, which has split lawmakers between a pro-agriculture block known as the ruralistas and those who worry the changes could drive more deforestation and grant amnesty for farmers who illegally cleared forest in the past. The current text has been revised to include greener provisions relative to the original version championed by ruralistas.
Deforestation has fallen by about 80 percent since the Brazilian Amazon since 2004. A combination of macroeconomic factors, increased law enforcement and conservation measures, improved forest monitoring, pressure from environmentalists, and private sector initiatives are credited for the decline. However scientists fear that continuing deforestation, combined with the effects of climate change — including two recent droughts that were the worst on record — could push the Amazon toward a critical tipping point in coming decades.
Overall, forest cover in the Brazilian Amazon, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, declined by nearly 20 percent since 1970.