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Brazil supreme court upholds changes to laws protecting Amazon rainforest

[JURIST] Brazil's Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF) [official website, in Portuguese] on Wednesday upheld [materials, in Portuguese] the 2012 changes to the Brazilian Floral Code [text, PDF, in Portuguese] that reduced protection for rainforests in Brazil.

The 2012 changes included granting amnesty to some small property owners who broke the laws designed at protecting against deforestation before 2008.

The STF held that the amnesty for past infractions did not violate the Brazilian constitution. The approved changes to the Floral Code in 2012 have been seen as giving incentive to future lawbreakers. The ruling is perceived as a blow to environmentalists, as Brazil has an overwhelming majority of the Amazon rainforest in its territory.

In recent years Brazil has undergone rapid deforestation. According to the Brazilian government, between 2015 and 2016 the deforestation rate increased 29 percent [press release, in Portuguese]. There is renewed fear among environmentalists that additional amnesty will be granted for illegal deforestation.

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