BRASILIA, Brazil, May 27 (UPI) -- Brazil's Chamber of Deputies has voted to ease rules on the amount of land farmers must preserve as forest and grant some amnesties for previous deforestation.
Supporters of the amended Forest Code say Brazil needs land to boost agricultural production, while environmentalists say the new law will lead to increased destruction of the Amazon rainforest, the BBC reported Wednesday.
The Chamber of Deputies voted to overhaul the measure after months of heated debate, but it must now go to the Senate and then to President Dilma Rousseff, who has said would veto any bill that contained an amnesty.
Under the current law, 80 percent of a farm in the Amazon region must remain forested, but the legislation has not been widely enforced.
It is estimated that 20 percent of the Amazon, the world's biggest rainforest, has been deforested as a result of logging and farming.
Under the amended law small-scale landowners, who are the majority of Brazil's farmers, would be exempt from having to replant deforested land.