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Brazil's national police look for illegal extraction of wood as country eases rules limiting deforestation

Lunae Parracho / AFP - Getty Images

A member of the Public Security National Force --a national police elite unit-- walks through on the Amazonic forest reserve of Trairao, west of Para state, northern Brazil, looking for illegal deforestation places, on Dec. 4. The Brazilian authorities are conducting the 'Capitao do Mato' operation from Nov. 18 to Dec. 8, to fight the illegal extraction of wood in the national forest reserves of Trairao and Riosinho do Afrisio.

Reuters reports:

Brazil's Senate passed a landmark reform of the country's land law on Tuesday, infuriating environmentalists who say it could spark a new wave of deforestation in the Amazon region.

The new so-called Forest Code relaxes requirements on the amount of forest coverage farmers must maintain on their properties, a change that producers in the agricultural powerhouse say is needed to end years of legal uncertainty.

Lunae Parracho / AFP - Getty Images

Aerial view of an illegal wood extraction site at the Amazonic forest reserve of Trairao, western Para state, northern Brazil on Dec. 4.

The Senate approved the basic text of the bill late Tuesday, leaving dozens of proposed amendments to be voted on later.

The government says environmentalists' fears are mostly unfounded and that strict enforcement of the new rules will result in the restoration of 24 million hectares of forest, equal to the size of the United Kingdom.

Read the full story here.

Lunae Parracho / AFP - Getty Images

A Federal Police officer walks by planks at an illegal sawmill in Valdinei Ferreira Jango, near the Amazonic Forest reserve of Trairao, western state of Para, northern Brazil on Dec. 4.

Lunae Parracho / AFP - Getty Images

The couple Maria and Domingos Siva pose inside their house in Areias -- a settlement created to host Amazonic people alongside the BR163 national road -- near the Amazonic Forest reserve of Trairao, western state of Para, northern Brazil on Dec. 4.

Lunae Parracho / AFP - Getty Images

The main street of Areias -- a settlement created to host Amazonic people alongside the BR163 national road -- near the Amazonic Forest reserve of Trairao, western state of Para, northern Brazil on Dec. 4.