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Brazil | Study finds 15M acres of private forest may lose protections under revisions to forest code

Over 15 million hectares (57,915 square miles) of Amazon forest stand to lose their protected status as a result of changes to Brazil’s 1965 Forest Code, according to a study published in Nature Sustainability. Significant revisions to the law in 2012, and further changes approved by the Supreme Court last year, could allow rural landowners to clear large areas of privately-owned native vegetation that previously had to be conserved.

The Brazilian Forest Code of 1965 mandated that private landowners, depending on the state in which they lived, set aside between 20 and 80 percent of native forests and savannas on their rural properties as “legal reserves.” The law has been lauded for its stringent conservation of Amazon forests; as a legal mechanism, it is still considered the largest single protector of private property forests required by any nation on the planet.

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