RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) — Brazil's president used her veto power to slash through the new Forest Code, making the environmental law a little tougher on large agricultural interests by strengthening reforestation requirements along river banks, a decree published by the government said yesterday.
President Dilma Rousseff's goal was to recover some of the elements that were in the original legislation but were lost as it made its way through the House and Senate, and thus "maintain the balance between social and environmental" needs in the countryside, Environmental Minister Izabella Teixeira said.
One of the most debated items altered by the president restored different rules for reforestation along river banks according to farm size.
With Rousseff's veto, medium-size properties will have to keep wooded areas 20 metres (yards) deep along rivers, and the owners of the largest properties will have to preserve a 30-metre buffer of trees. The congressional text had required medium property owners to maintain 15 metres of vegetation next to bodies of water and larger properties 20 metres. The smallest properties have to maintain at least five metres of protected area around rivers.
The size category of each property is determined both by its dimensions and by a complex calculation that includes local conditions and the type of commercial activity pursued there.
Teixeira said this scaled solution is fair because it takes into consideration the size of a property as well as the ability of an owner to maintain or restore vegetation.
"We do not believe the government should cut back environmental protection requirements for large and medium landowners," she told reporters Wednesday. "There is a balance, and we found that balance."