Main Brazilian Presidential Candidates Oppose Illegal Deforestation Amnesty

The four main candidates for president in the Brazilian elections have declared themselves opposed to key points in a controversial legislative proposal to reduce protection against forest loss. Opposition by the candidates was strongest against provisions which would grant an amnesty to major past acts of illegal deforestation. The candidates also admitted the need to develop a genuinely forest-based economy, reduce deforestation to zero, adopt appropriate new instruments and conduct research.

The candidates, Dilma Rousseff (Workers’ Party), José Serra (Social Democratic Party), Marina Silva (Green Party) and Plínio de Arruda Sampaio (Socialist Party), were responding to a questionnaire prepared by the SOS Florestas alliance which is made up of 12 environmental organizations, including WWF. This group felt the legislative proposal neglected scientific views.

All of the candidates recognized that catastrophic events like landslides and floods occurring in Brazil with considerable numbers of victims are directly related to removal of vegetation and irregular occupation of the land in fragile areas. In addition to adopting a stance against granting amnesty to those that have carried out illegal deforestation, candidates defended the need to bring back deforested areas and to standardize land tenure of all properties without alterations in the law.

The four presidential candidates stressed the need for more dialogue with society at large on the issue so that a legislative proposal that merely addresses the immediate interests of a given sector is not approved as it stands. The proposal will come before the chamber of deputies for analysis after the elections but no definite date has been decided for including the text on the parliamentary agenda.

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