updated 3/23/2007 2:34:53 PM ET 2007-03-23T18:34:53

New rules that allow sustainable logging of national forests in the threatened Amazon drew guarded praise from both environmentalists and loggers.

President Luiz Inacio da Silva this week issued rules to carry out the law, passed last year by Congress, that opens national forests to use by private companies and citizens.

Officials are supposed to create a registry of all public lands in the Amazon region and the National Forestry Service will then determine which areas can be opened up for concessions.

Loggers will have to present a plan for sustainable management that preserves the forest while allowing commercial profit from it.

"We see more positive points than negative points in the decree," Marcelo Marquesini, a senior campaigner for Greenpeace, said Thursday. "Success or failure of this public policy will depend on monitoring and enforcement. If there is no enforcement it will not work."

At least some loggers agreed.

"It's a good move if everybody follows the law, but if some people are logging responsibly and others aren't, it won't work. I can't compete with those who log without a management plan they can sell wood for a fifth of the price that I do," said Marcelo Sobral, a logger from the southern state of Curitiba with holdings in the Amazon rain forest.

Brazil is home to the vast bulk of the Amazon rain forest and in recent years the country has struggled with how to balance the region's development with preservation.

Farmers and ranchers are increasingly making inroads into the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness, threatening the region's environment, but also creating jobs for the millions of poor people who live in the region.

So far about 20 percent of the Amazon's 1.6 million square miles rain forest has been cut down, mostly to make way for pasture and grain fields.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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