Farmers plant trees to fight deforestation

Rio Paraguai passando pelo centro da cidade de...
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Note:  We have our Brazil Contest, where you can win a framed photograph from National Geographic Photographer Peter Guttman, going on until December 15, 2009.  Just leave a comment to be eligible.  Details at https://ecoadventuretravel.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/its-here-the-brazil-contest/. (~Robert)

The Washington Post had a wonderful article about changes in Brazil to help protect the environment.  I thought it would be interesting for the readers here:

For nearly 20 years, Luiz Alberto Bortolini cleared trees and planted soybeans as fast as he could, one of many pioneers who turned this barren outpost into prosperous farmland.

Now, he and hundreds of other successful farmers are replanting trees as part of an ambitious initiative to reduce deforestation. Their goal — to set aside one-third of their farms for native vegetation — is revolutionary in a region long resistant to environmental controls.

“It had to happen, as soon as possible,” said Bortolini, 50, who now has a 6,200-acre farm. “This is in the farmers’ interests because the farmer is the one most dependent on the environment.”

The initiative, driven by the market and by new pressure from regulators, comes as the government considers proposals to dramatically reduce the rainforest destruction that has made Brazil a leading producer of greenhouse gases. Earlier this month, Brazil said it would cut emissions by up to 38.9 percent from projected 2020 levels, a pledge designed to encourage other countries to take major steps at next month’s global warming summit in Copenhagen.

“I think what they are moving towards is essentially a no-deforestation position by 2030,” said David Cleary, who oversees conservation strategies in Latin America for the Nature Conservancy, an international conservation organization. “It’s way, way beyond any commitment that Brazil has made in deforestation before.”

Already, deforestation has fallen by half in Brazil since 2006, as the threat of sanctions against ranchers and better enforcement of environmental regulations curbed the fires and chain saws used to raze trees across the world’s biggest rainforest.

Still, a swath of forest the size of Connecticut was destroyed last year. Environmentalists also worry about road-paving projects in the Amazon and about the construction of hydroelectric dams in the wilds. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers is lobbying to loosen the country’s forest code, an environmental-protection law that requires farmers in the Amazon to set aside 80 percent of their land for native species.

“This is a good illustration of the stark contradictions at play within Brazil’s business-friendly and conservation-minded policy circles,” said Christian Poirier, Brazil program coordinator for Amazon Watch. Nascent projects such as the town of Lucas’s initiative, he said, are “threatened by forces that seek to dilute the code and by extension dilute Brazil’s commitments to reduce emissions going into Copenhagen.”

But there are communities in Brazil where farmers and ranchers are working with environmentalists to implement projects balancing development with environmental conservation.

They are driven by a new reality: buyers of agricultural products, from soybeans to meat, increasingly require producers to certify environmentally friendly practices. Lucas farmers, who sell to multinational giants such as Cargill and Bunge, were quick to understand.

“Farmers there, like farmers anywhere, are quite conservative — they are not environmental angels,” said Cleary of the Nature Conservancy. “But they move when they feel it’s in their interest to move.”

Among the first to take heed in Lucas was Marino Franz, who like many farmers here migrated north from Brazil’s more populous south.

He arrived in 1980 and scraped by as a field hand. Today, he has a 25,000-acre spread and owns a plant that refines soybeans into ethanol. He is also the mayor.

“I noticed the concerns European consumers had regarding the environment,” Franz said. “They were worried about soy imported from Brazil.”

Lucas officials reacted by joining with the Nature Conservancy to develop a proposal to bring farmers in line with forest code regulations, which were rarely observed here and elsewhere in Brazil.

In this region, once a mosaic of savannahs and forests, farmers have to set aside about 35 percent of their land for native vegetation. As an alternative, they can pay to protect unspoiled woodlands far from their state as compensation for past deforestation, an option several farmers said they prefer because of the challenges and costs of replanting trees.

Luciane Bertinatto Copetti, the town’s agriculture and environmental secretary, said authorities first mapped the region’s 670 farms using satellite imagery and then met with each property owner. Those farmers, she said, have collectively agreed to participate in the replanting effort, which began a few months ago.

That farmers would even consider such a proposal — which offers no financial assistance — until recently would have seemed preposterous in a state of hardy individualists.

Barely a generation ago, settlers came here to Mato Grosso, which literally means “thick brush,” encouraged by the government, which offered low-interest loans and cheap land. Many struggled, living in tents and toiling in oven-hot fields, far from railway lines and paved roads.

“When we arrived here, there were no laws so there were no instructions from government institutions,” said Bortolini, the farmer. “Each one did whatever he thought he could do.”

Today, Mato Grosso is an agricultural powerhouse, and Lucas is one of its most prosperous towns.

The population in town hovers above 50,000, twice what it was in 2000, and 485 businesses opened this year. In a way, Lucas could be mistaken for any American farm town — big, wide streets, mom-and-pop stores, new public schools and dealerships selling John Deere tractors.

Among the first farmers to start replanting was Darci Eichelt, 45, who took up here in 1986.

On a recent morning, he drove his pickup truck along a dirt road through green fields of soybeans. He stopped and walked to a clump of trees. A year ago, they were about three feet tall, he said. Now, some have reached 10 feet.

“Can you imagine all this in 10 years?” he said. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

 

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Abbas:

At the website page located at: http://www.expertlawfirm.com/criminal_defense/burglary.html

Please replace the existing content at that site with the following:

Burglary Attorneys and Burglary Lawyers in Southern California

Robert Miller and Associates attorneys have experience in handling burglary cases in Southern California. If you or someone you know has been charged in Southern California with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, felony theft, or possession of burglary tools, we can help.

Under the law, California Penal Code section 459, burglary is committed when entering a building with the specific intent to steal something or commit a felony. All the State needs to prove is that you had the intent to steal something or commit a felony when entering a building. The prosecution does not have to prove

that you actually stole something or committed a felony.

For example, you could be found guilty of burglary for entering a building with the intent of vandalizing it. You could also be found guilty of burglary even if there was no evidence that you stole property if the State can prove you had the intent to steal something when you entered the building.

There are two types of burglary under California law:

  • First degree burglary, which is always a felony and a strike; and
  • Second degree burglary, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and is not a strike.

First degree burglary happens when a burglary is alleged to have been committed in an inhabited dwelling (i.e. a home). The penalties for this crime, under the statute, can be probation, two years, four years or six years in state prison. (Note that when you are granted probation this means you could serve no time or get up to 365 days in county jail as a condition of your probation, along with other terms). If probation is denied then you are sent to state prison for a minimum of two years to a maximum of six years.

Moreover, residential burglary is always a ‘strike.’ When you have a strike, you must serve 85 percent of any jail or prison sentence. Strikes also have potentially immense ramifications if future felonies are committed. If another felony is committed by a person with one strike, he/she will serve no less than 80 percent of any jail or prison time and the potential prison sentence will be doubled. For example, if you have a prior residential burglary and then get another residential burglary, your maximum sentence doubles from six years to twelve years. If you have two strikes and commit any type of future felony you can spend the remainder of your life in prison (three strikes and you are out for the rest of your life!).

In sum, first degree burglary or residential burglary are serious criminal charges. Moreover, the District Attorney and the courts are very protective of homes, and will, in most cases, want actual incarceration,  when someone has been charged with burglarizing a home. Therefore, Miller and Associates criminal defense attorneys will always try to reduce the first degree burglary charge to the much less serious commercial or second degree burglary to avoid potential jail time in these types of cases.

Second degree burglary is any burglary that does not take place in an inhabited dwelling place, commonly called commercial burglary. Commercial burglary usually takes place in businesses. You can be charged with commercial burglary when you have the specific intent to steal something from a store when you walk in the door. Typically, commercial burglaries will be charged as misdemeanors when the value of the property taken is less than $400.00. If the value is over $400.00, then the burglaries will be charged as felonies. So, you can be charged for misdemeanor commercial burglary when stealing something as little as a pack of gum. The maximum penalty for misdemeanor commercial burglary is one year in the county jail, although the penalties are often much less. If the value of the property is over $400.00, you will most likely be charged with a felony.  However, Miller and Associates can reduce the felony to a misdemeanor in some cases. The penalties for felony commercial burglary can be probation (up to one year in the county jail) or 16 months, two years or three years in prison. Since commercial burglary is not a strike people will be allowed to serve just 50 percent of any prison sentence.

The Key Issue for Burglary is Intent

Can the State prove that there was an intent to steal? If the State can’t prove intent to steal, then charges will most likely be dismissed or the defendant will be found not guilty at trial. If the State has problems with proving intent to steal, then the case can be dismissed or settled for reduced charges with potentially zero jail or prison time.

If intent to steal can be easily proven by the evidence, then there is still hope to avoid any actual jail time. The key factor in this case is to show remorse and to pay back Full Restitution to the victim(s). What was taken must be given back or paid for by the defendant in order to get a reduced punishment and hopefully reduced charges as well.

Other key factors to consider in these cases are whether the defendant has a prior criminal record for theft. If the defendant has a prior record for theft, especially burglaries, punishment will typically be more severe. If there is no prior record, then punishment can be greatly reduced. Miller and Associates gets probation for the vast majority of its clients; with probation comes the opportunity to have community service, home arrest, or work project as opposed to actual jail time.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for burglary, get professional representation from an experienced attorney immediately to protect your rights by contacting our firm.

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