On 25 May, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff endorsed revisions to the country's Forest Code. Thanks partly to an appeal from the international scientific community and non-governmental organizations, together with a petition of more than 2 million signatures, Rousseff also vetoed some of the code's provisions. But more is needed.
The revised code will continue to protect forests in crucial locations, such as along rivers, on hilltops and in coastal wetlands, as well as a specified percentage of those on private property (see go.nature.com/fzxmj5). There will be no amnesty for offenders who illegally logged forests in the past.
I believe, however, that policies to reduce deforestation and foster sustainable development need to be strengthened to counter any potentially adverse effects of the new Forest Code. Payments for ecosystem services must be increased — for example, to expand the important work of the Forest Conservation Allowance Programme (Bolsa Floresta) in the Amazon. Ranching, agriculture and other economic activities should be confined to existing deforested areas. Environmental laws need stricter enforcement, and regular monitoring of forest areas is a priority.