Brazil's lower house of parliament has passed a bill restricting recognition of new indigenous reserves, Reuters reported.

Environmentalists and human rights defenders see this decision as a setback due to intense pressure from the farm lobby.

The bill was approved last night by 283 votes to 155. As lawmakers voted, indigenous groups blocked a highway on the outskirts of Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, and set tires on fire.

Armed with bows and arrows, protesters clashed with police, who dispersed them with tear gas.

Indigenous groups from across the country plan to stage a week of protests in front of the Congress in the capital Brasilia.

The newly adopted law will not affect the already recognized reserves, but could affect hundreds of territories that are currently being evaluated. Brazil's lower house of parliament passed the bill after it was pressured by the country's influential agricultural lobby.

The establishment of reservations provides statutory protection to indigenous communities that helps deter the invasion of their lands by illegal loggers and prospectors. Those incursions have become more frequent during the term of right-wing former President Jair Bolsonaro, who has called for the start of agricultural and mining activities even in already recognized reserves.

Indigenous leaders want President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in last year's election, to protect some 300 territories that were established years ago but have yet to be officially recognized. Lula admitted six such territories last month.

The law still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the president. Lula could veto it, but there could be enough votes in Congress to reject it.

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