São Paulo can not afford setbacks in their environmental legislationThursday March 8th, 2018
Contrary to warnings from experts and ignoring the greatest water crisis in the history of São Paulo, São Paulo House approved the Legislative Assembly on 10 December, the bill regulating the 2012 Forest Code in the state. The PL 219/14, authored by deputy Barros Munhoz (PSDB), government leader in the Legislative Assembly, and five other pro-government parliamentarians, now awaits the sanction of the governor Geraldo Alckmin.
The project, which provides for the Environmental Regularization Program (PRA), plays in Sao Paulo major gaps in federal law, especially with regard to the Permanent Preservation Areas (PPAs). These areas are essential to the springs, rivers and springs, as the forests protect all water flow, prevent siltation of rivers and dams and still have the role to extract moisture from the air and take it to the aquifers, fulfilling the function regulatory climate.
Study of SOS Atlantic Forest released in October found that the native forest cover in the watershed and the springs that make up the Cantareira System, the center of the crisis in water supply, is far below the optimal levels and should be recovered. There are only 488 km2 (21.5%) of indigenous vegetation in the basin and 2,270 km2 set of six dams that form the system. There is no doubt that deforestation of the Atlantic Forest is directly related to water scarcity in the Southeast. With less forest protection, we will have less water. Therefore, with the approval of PL 219, these areas will be further disadvantaged, which stress the plight of state sources.
In approving a bill to regulate land uses and activities hitherto irregular and which will be considered consolidated, the project decreased the APPs recovery riparian strips aimed at water conservation. The recovery of springs and water holes, for example, set at a distance of 50 meters, was reduced to just 15 meters.
Another worrying point is the possibility of São Paulo exported to other states of the Atlantic Forest and Cerrado biome the restoration of the legal reserve, without considering the watershed. This measure would benefit mainly large farmers who deforested forests in state territory and now that will compensate them in areas where the land value is lower, as in the Northeast.
To complete the setback, the project also brings article about the use of woody crops and exotic species in the recovery of permanent preservation areas, completely descaracterizando the legal function is solely to preserve permanently.
Even more worrying is the state of São Paulo Cerrado biome covers about 15% of the state, since the project will exempt Cerrado properties reforestation, which will bring huge negative impact.
Importantly, the new Forest Code is Direct Action object of unconstitutionality filed by the Federal Public Ministry, on three issues that are still being judged and which were repeated in São Paulo bill. Thus, the State of São Paulo, which has always been a reference in the country with regard to innovations and technology in the environmental area, loses a chance to correct the distortions of federal law.
Also wastes the opportunity to define instruments to support and encourage the conservation, such as the Payment for Environmental Services (PES) – theme devalued in the project approved by the São Paulo deputies. The state also loses time and wears politically with a repetitive regulations, nothing innovative, not perfect the system of Environment and development of mechanisms for a modern and sustainable agribusiness.
In approving the afogadilho project by repeating errors and lights out of elective office, the Legislature Paulista made it clear value the interest of specific groups, even if it means rejecting the needs of the population and the state.
It is now up to the governor Geraldo Alckmin react effectively to defend the real interests of the company, which already suffers from a lack of water. Do not allow in Sao Paulo setbacks as practiced in the federal legislation, which aggravate the water crisis and weaken the protection of our forests is to reinforce the importance of the Federative Pact and the sovereignty of states, which can and should be more restrictive in environmental matters to meet the needs and specificities of its population and economic activities.
* Mario Mantovani is director of Public Policy at the SOS Atlantic Forest Foundation. (Originally published on the website Brazil Post )