Norway to halve forest protection payments to Brazil to about $50 mln

by Reuters
Friday, 23 June 2017 10:19 GMT

Norway has been the biggest foreign donor to protect tropical forests - payments are based on performance

* Norway has paid $1.1 billion since 2008, $100 mln in 2016

* Temer says Brazil working to safeguard Amazon forest

* Norway PM says no need to renegotiate forest pact

By Alister Doyle

OSLO, June 23 (Reuters) - Norway told visiting Brazilian President Michel Temer on Friday that it would halve its payments to help safeguard the Amazon rainforest in 2017 to about $50 million because more forests are being destroyed.

Rich from producing oil and gas, Norway has invested more than $1.1 billion in an Amazon Fund since 2008 to help Brazil protect the forests, which are under threat from logging and their conversion to farmland.

"I expressed concern that deforestation has risen somewhat (in recent years after past successes)," Prime Minister Erna Solberg told reporters after talks with Temer, who is visiting Oslo to promote investment in Brazil after a trip to Moscow.

Temer said Brazil was working to protect the Amazon, for example, by expanding national parks. "Brazil is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, environmental reserves in the world," he said.

Norwegian Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen said payments would be "roughly halved, perhaps even more". He added that Norway paid 850 million Norwegian crowns ($100 million) in 2016.

Norway has been the biggest foreign donor to protect tropical forests from Brazil to Indonesia, partly because they are big natural stores of greenhouse gases and help to slow climate change. Payments are based on performance.

Norway paid about a billion crowns a year to Brazil from 2011-15, when there was a successful slowdown in forest losses.

Yet Brazil's deforestation climbed to 8,000 square kilometres (3,088 square miles) in 2016 - about the size of Greece's Mediterranean island of Crete - from 6,200 in 2015. Recent losses, however, are far below the 19,000 sq km recorded in 2005, Brazilian satellite data show.

Solberg reaffirmed a 2015 agreement to extend forest cooperation until 2020. "I see no reason to renegotiate that agreement," she said.

Outside Solberg's office, about 40 people protested against Temer with banners featuring slogans such as "stop rainforest destruction".

"We're here to show that people in Norway are extremely concerned by the rise in deforestation," Lars Loevold, head of the Rainforest Foundation Norway, told Reuters. He also said that Temer should do more for indigenous peoples.

($1 = 8.4519 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Toby Davis)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.