Brazil Lower House Passes Forest Bill After Year of Negotiations

Brazil’s lower house passed a bill that changes the way forests are managed following a year of political wrangling.

The legislation was approved in a 274-184 vote and updates the nation’s 1965 forestry code, according to a final count in the Congress’ lower house. The bill may still have some changes after lawmakers proposals of amendments before heading to President Dilma Rousseff.

Brazil’s lawmakers and lobby groups have clashed over numerous elements of the legislation, which was first passed by the lower house in May and then the Senate in December, including an amnesty for some farmers who illegally cut forests. The approved text includes some changes made by Deputy Paulo Piau, who was charged with preparing it for the vote.

Between 2000 and 2010, more than 18 million hectares (44.5 million acres) of Amazonian rainforest were cleared, which is about the size of Syria, the National Institute for Space Research said on its website.

Piau represents the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, known as PMDB, in Minas Gerais state.

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