A collection of rural lawmakers in Brazil is pushing legislation that would double the amount of Amazon jungle that could be deforested. The government’s current forestry code requires landowners in the Amazon to preserve 80 percent of their land. The new bill, which still must pass both chambers of the country’s Congress, would change the policy to allow landowners to use at least 50 percent of their land for “productive purposes” after winning zoning approval. Among other nasty things, the bill would also reduce reforestation requirements and contribute to the spread of nonnative species. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso succeeded in defeating a similar bill last spring, but environmentalists are concerned that his government may be too weak to do so again.

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