We, the undersigned organizations and movements, support the Brazilian movements manifesto against the changes proposed in the Forest Code in Brazil, in the context of our common struggles for food sovereignty and environmental justice.
This policy reform, in a mega-biodiverse country which has over fifty percent of the world’s tropical forests, far from protecting forests and forest peoples, will favor agribusiness transnational coorporations and broaden social and environmental injustice brought by the carbon markets, land grabbing, contamination and the displacement of peasants, local communities and indigenous peoples. This type of phenomena takes place throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia and must be stopped. For the benefit of communities in Brazil and for the world, we strongly urge that the Forest Law is not changed.
Statement against the reform of the Forest Code
The National Seminar on the Forest Code held in São Paulo on May 7th, 2011, gathered over 400 participants from 50 organizations, peoples’ movements, members of Parliament, scientists, academics and rural and urban social groups. These organizations express their strong rejection to Bill 1876/99 submitted by MP Aldo Rebelo to the House of Representatives, which makes reference to the modification of the Forest Code.
The substitute text proposed by Rebelo would have serious impacts for the Brazilian society, and it also goes against provisions established in the Federal Constitution. Its aim to weaken the law is clear, and the possibility to change the Forest Code is already causing an increase of environmental destruction.
We would like to denounce the lack of participation and democracy around this debate, which is of national interest. Contrary to what its promoters state, the bill does not take into account the demands of family and peasant agriculture, of native peoples and quilombolas (black communities).
In addition, the particular aspects of Brazilian cities are not respected and the proposals of urban social movements that advocate for social justice policies for the margined and vulnerable population are not taken into account. Neither are the scientific contributions in terms of an improved sustainable use of the land.
To build an environmental policy that includes the interests of the Brazilian people and the generations to come, it is necessary that society deepens its discussions about controversial issues. We will not accept that significant changes such as these be voted in a hurry without the adequate involvement of all social sectors affected.
The changes proposed favor business investments, such as real-estate speculation in the countryside and the city, concentration of large extensions of land, agribusiness, big national and transnational corporations such as the cellulose and paper industry. The reform would only benefit the same sectors that perpetuate slave work and other human rights violations.
The interests defended by the Forest Code reform are, for instance, the suspension of fines; amnesty to environmental crimes perpetrated by agribusiness –which is violently advancing on our natural resources-; and the dismantling of legal reserves in all kinds of property.
Legal reserves are areas that admit sustainable exploitation and need to be kept that way. We are against the transformation of such areas into monoculture plantations of exotic species. We consider it is necessary to improve control and denounce the dismantling of environmental bodies, and at the same time to have incentive policies to recover degraded areas. We cannot take a step back.
It is necessary to make a clear distinction between extensive/monoculture/export-oriented agriculture and family/peasant agriculture which is responsible for over 70 per cent of the food consumed by the Brazilian people according to figures by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Therefore, it is necessary to have policies for family and peasant agriculture and to strengthen an agricultural model that leaves no space for agribusiness.
We need to strengthen a national environmental policy, and give greater support to oversight entities instead of giving way to the pressure of rural elites to dismantle the authority at the federal level. We are against the weakening of permanent preservation areas in the countryside, because without them, agriculture itself would be at risk. We defend a strong agrarian and urban reform policy; delimitation of indigenous areas and property titles in quilombolas territories; thus protecting our forests, rivers and biodiversity. We denounce the repression against peasants and poor urban citizens.
What is at stake is the Brazilian agriculture, environmental and land use model, against the proposals of the ruralist representatives in Parliament and of the speculative financial capital. We demand that our natural resources be preserved for all Brazilian people, in order to ensure a future for humankind.
We hope President Dilma maintains her commitments made during the electoral campaign with reference to the protection of environmental laws, and we commit to support society to confront the interests of agribusiness that wants to weaken these laws. We call the Brazilian people to join this struggle against the reform of the Forest Code!
NATIONAL SEMINAR ON THE FOREST CODE
São Paulo, May 7th, 2011
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