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Brazil seeks $1 bln in foreign aid to curb Amazon deforestation by 30-40% -environmental minister

by Reuters
Sunday, 4 April 2021 15:23 GMT

A Brazil's army soldier is seen next to piles of lumber cut illegally from Amazon rainforest at a sawmill during an operation to combat illegal logging, in Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil May 11, 2020. Picture taken May 11, 2020. Brazilian Army/Handout via REUTERS

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Brazil looks to outside funders to help fund forest protection programmes as it faces criticism for failure to curb losses in the Amazon

SAO PAULO, April 4 (Reuters) - Brazil's environment minister wants $1 billion in foreign aid from countries including the United States to help reduce deforestation in the Amazon between 30% and 40%, according to an interview published on Saturday in newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo.

"The plan is $1 billion over 12 months," the minister, Ricardo Salles, told the newspaper. "If those resources were available to be used in that way (to fight deforestation), we can commit to a reduction of between 30% and 40% in 12 months."

Brazil has been widely criticized for its failure to curb deforestation in the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest. Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has said he prefers to exploit the economic resources of the rainforest rather than protect it, and has sent troops to try to handle the problem with little success.

A third of the money would be used to fund actions to combat deforestation directly, Salles said, while the remaining two thirds would be used for economic development, to give people who have benefited from the rainforest alternative opportunities.

He added that he had asked the United States for money and had also asked Norway "if they wanted to collaborate."

The military would remain in charge, Salles said, because it is cheaper to pay their daily rates than to hire full-time staffers at the environmental agency Ibama. The agency has suffered budget cuts under Bolsonaro.

"If we don't get the money, we will do the best we can with our resources, but I cannot commit to a specific percentage of (deforestation) reduction," Salles said.

(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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