BRASILIA, BRAZIL - Brazil's new forest code, in part intended to open vast tracts of forest land to large-scale agriculture, saw line item vetoed by President Dilma Rousseff late Friday, an action  that may save forest lands instead.

Brazil Forests May Be Protected by Last Minute VetoBut environmentalists and other analysts say it is unclear what impact Rouseff's veto will have on illegal timber harvesting in Brazil, after the final legislation had such a large number of components selectively vetoed.

The latest update to the Brazilian Forest Code had a May 25 deadline for presidential action. The bill has global ramifications for the wood industry, since large volumes of exotic species and other timber are sourced in Brazil. 

Originally written in 1965 but never formally adopted, the Brazilian Forest Code required landowners in the Brazilian Amazon to maintain 50 percent of forests as "legal reserves," (that percent was later raised to 80 percent) according to a Wikipedia entry. But this requirement has never been enforced.

Though never formally adopted into law until now, it has been estimated that other Brazilian Government policies have reduced logging from 21.5 thousand square kilometers in 2002 to 7.0 thousand in 2009, according to Wikipedia. The environmental degradation of transforming rain forests to agricultural land is worsened by the widespread use of burning to clear the land.

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