1.4 million Brazilians sign Zero Deforestation Bill – 10-14-15
For the past three years, Greenpeace Brazil has been collecting signatures in support of a bill to establish a zero deforestation law in the country. As a result, the group were able to presented draft legislation to the Brazilian congress last week
On 7 October, accompanied by senators, religious leaders, celebrities and other supporters of a ban on the felling of Brazil’s forests, Greenpeace Brazil formally presented the draft legislation to the Brazilian congress – signed by 1.4 million Brazilians.
“We submit this bill to congress and now it’s time for them to reflect on the will of the people,” Cristiane Mazzetti of Greenpeace Brazil said in a statement.
“There is enough space for development without cutting down more of our forests,” said Mazzetti. “Democracy is strengthened by ensuring access to natural resources for everyone, for our generation and future generations. This is why stopping the destruction of our forests is essential.”
The annual rate of Amazon forest loss in Brazil has slowed by 75 percent since the early 2000s, but roughly 5,000 square kilometres (1.2 million acres) of rainforest is still destroyed every year. Greenpeace says that’s the equivalent of 700,000 football pitches. Even some lawmakers joined the group in saying that it’s time for the country to make it official policy that economic development activities not be undertaken at the expense of the Amazon rainforest.
“I signed the petition in 2012 and I admit that I was anxious to see it completed,” senator João Capiberibe said in a statement. “This is certainly an important step towards the objective of zero deforestation in Brazil and then beginning a new project for developing the country, one that is not based on environmental destruction.”
A recent analysis by Paulo Moutinho of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute and Steve Schwartzman of the Environmental Defense Fund supports Greenpeace’s assertion that zero deforestation is entirely possible for Brazil to achieve without foregoing economic growth.
“Brazil succeeded in reducing Amazon deforestation by more than 80 percent since 2005 while maintaining robust growth in beef and soy production,” Moutinho and Schwarzman write. “There are at least about 56,000 km² of degraded cattle pasture in the Amazon that can be reclaimed for agriculture, as well as ample scope for intensifying cattle raising and improving yields, freeing up even more land.”
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has pledged to eliminate illegal deforestation and restore 12 million hectares (about 30 million acres) of forest by 2030 as part of broader efforts to combat climate change, itself a major threat to the wellbeing of tropical rainforests the world over.