Brazil President Dilma Rousseff vetoed part of a new forest law today in a bid to make it tougher on big agricultural interests.
Her goal was to recover elements of the new law that had been removed by parliament and "maintain the balance between social and environmental" needs, said Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira.
It is meant to be a fresh start on policing deforestation in the giant country and to provide incentives for landowners to comply.
A forest law was first passed in 1965, but has been hobbled by lax or nonexistent enforcement.
It required landowners to keep a portion of their land forested, 80 per cent for states in the Amazon and 20 per cent elsewhere - percentages that have not changed in the new law.
But there were no incentives to comply and little effort to enforce the law, leading many farmers to break it.
The new law seeks to wipe the slate clean by giving those who illegally cleared land a way out of prosecution.
They must sign and act on an agreement to bring their property back to compliance.
Medium-size properties will also have to keep wooded areas 20 yards deep along rivers and the owners of the largest properties will have to preserve a 30-yard buffer of trees.
"We do not believe the government should cut back environmental protection requirements for large and medium landowners," said Ms Teixeira.
"There is a balance, and we found that balance."
The decree also instituted a Rural Environmental Registry, an electronic database to help enforce environmental laws.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
Donate to the Fighting Fund here
George Osborne's advice from the International Monetary Fund is like the curate's egg - good in parts.
The government wants to ramp up Western involvement in the Syrian conflict but the cost will be more violence and instability in the region
PCS general secretary urges the trade union movement to step up the fight against the Tory cuts