So a bunch of my acquaintances on Facebook are sharing a bunch of bullshit links like this one inciting a panic over the Brazilian forestry code. It’s been going on for months, on and off, and it’s all stupidity. There’s also the usual Greenpeace dumbassery (article in Portuguese, but the picture speaks for itself) – Gee, I wonder who your audience is when you project an image in English onto the Brazilian Congress, in a nation where English-speakers are a rarity?
Anyway, the panic is that the new forest code will let everyone and his abused dog go to the Amazon and slash-and-burn until it’s a second Sahara and we all suffocate, just for fun. OK, cock-ends, time for me to beat you about the face and neck with the wet trout of facts and the putrefying kipper of rationality, utterly ineffectual though it will be:
The Brazilian Forest Code, after this revision, will still remain the strictest forestry/agricultural code in the world. Even on private property, landowners in the Amazon region are required to leave at least 80% of their land untouched. The only change that might allow some legal logging is the redefinition of what land must be 100% untouched, even in private property and in all of Brazil; previously this included (not limited to) hillsides, and riverbanks up to 30m from wide rivers (it’s a sliding scale depending on the width of the river). The revision allows for some hillsides to be utilised for agriculture (really just an issue for the far south of Brazil, as the old law is restricting the planting of vineyards), and lowers riverbank universal protection to 15m (but remember, beyond those 15m only 20% of Amazon land at a maximum can be legally used for anything). The whole point of revising the forestry code is to normalise the basis for agriculture, in ALL of Brazil - not just the Amazon. Due to poor enforcement in the dictatorship era, the old law has largely been flaunted; due to poor recordkeeping through successive governments and the confusing nature of the old laws, plus the usual corruption, many settlers (a shockingly high percentage both by number and by total land area) don’t have proper title to their land and/or are technically in violation of the Forest Code, even having tried to do everything right; and as a result the old Forest Code is now basically unenforceable.
The new Forest Code clears the slate, making the law clearer and functional, while legalising most farms (again, we’re talking the whole country here) such that real, genuine enforcement of the Forest Code will finally be possible! As it is now, enforcement is willy-nilly with a tiny number of attempts at legal action and no consistency among them, and it all gets tied up in courts for as long as people can pay their lawyers (while agriculture and/or logging continues in the meantime). Regardless, illegal logging in the Amazon has been in a steep dive over the past decade, despite the worry that loggers would do as much as they could get away with before the passing of the new Forest Code.
If you want to get concerned about the clearing of native forest in Brazil, then worry about the cerrado instead (where a minimum of 35% of all land must be protected, compared to the Amazon’s 80% and “normal” land’s 20%) - also a huge CO2 sink and source of oxygen due to the enormous underground root systems, but more heavily farmed, and not protected by as many pretty pictures, internet campaigns from other continents, or celebrities trying to claw their way into the spotlight.
But no, fucksticks, instead you focus on opposing a law aimed at actually functioning, while calling for the maintenance of the current fuckery where people can get away with logging as long as they make the issue seem sufficiently complicated for the local overworked prosecutors and judges to not bother. Everybody loves citing polls about Brazilian popular opposition to the new law, but forget to mention that much (most, I believe) opposition is due to the code being too restrictive, while no group feels favoured.
No, ye meatbags blissfully unburdened by grey matter, you insist that no economic activity should take place in the Amazon region, despite being home to many millions of people. Look, in other countries – Britain and the USA, for examples, but probably just about every one on the planet – if you own a piece of land, you can farm it, all of it, simple as that. Protected land is almost always protected by government law, typically as a national/state/whatever park, but even in those cases people or companies can apply to carry out economic activity. In Brazil, that’s not the case. EVERY rural landowner is legally required to maintain a certain amount of their land untouched in perpetuity, the share depending on geographical features and the classification of the land (Amazon jungle, cerrado, Atlantic rainforest, or other). Plus there’s still plenty of protected nature reserves and indigenous land reserves beyond that.
So before you have the right to start whinging about what people are doing on other continents, let’s have some fair play. Let’s see you demand and get passed laws that ALL farmers in your home countries cover parts of their land with forest, and maintain them, all at their own cost. Let’s see you have a similar carbon footprint to Brazilians, generate most of your energy from hydroelectric power (don’t fucking get me started on furriners’ and citydwelling celebrities’ misinformed bullshit on the Belo Monte dam project), buy all your food locally, and stop flying across the world to “commune with nature”. Or I’ll use your ligaments for mandolin strings.
Seriously, between this issue, the Argentinian halfwit spouting all Kirchner’s bollocks about the Falklands, religious idiocy, and endless kitty/dog pictures, I’m thinking of leaving Facebook for Google+ where I can get some peace and quiet.
(Sources for rant: news from Folha de São Paulo, Correio Braziliense, and Veja, all of which I left at my old job so I can’t cite them directly (hope I got all the figures right); plus an informative briefing/seminar about the Forest Code held for diplomats and such, by an independent law firm close to the issue because of their work with business investments)