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article imageGermany cuts funding to Brazil to preserve the Amazon rainforest

By Karen Graham     Aug 12, 2019 in Environment
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday said his country has “no need” for German aid aimed at helping protect the Amazon rainforest after Berlin said it would suspend funding because of surging deforestation.
Germany announced on Saturday it was suspending aid to Brazil aimed at helping in the preservation of the Amazon rainforest, citing data that showed deforestation had surged since President Jair Bolsonaro took office, according to Reuters.
Environment Minister Svenja Schulze told the television news show Tagesspiegel, "Brazilian government policies in the Amazon raise doubts about continued, sustained declines in the rate of deforestation."
This move is just the first step in blocking 35 million euros ($40 million) for forest conservation and biodiversity programs until the rate of decline attained encouraging levels once again.
Since 2008, Germany has provided 95 million euros in support of a number of environmental programs in Brazil. The environmental minister said Germany will continue to support the Amazon Fund.
Concern about the Amazon forest has grown since Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro took office
Concern about the Amazon forest has grown since Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro took office
Germany is not alone in suspending funding to Brazil. Norway - which has given the most to the fund - is also giving the idea a lot of thought. They have threatened to withdraw and said last year that payments to Brazil would be cut in half and might be eliminated altogether, according to the AFP.
There is great concern over the extent of the deforestation. The Amazon rainforest is often referred to as our planet's lungs, producing 20 percent of the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. The Amazon is also a "carbon sink," meaning it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Without the forest, the land could be transformed into a savanna, which would greatly diminish the check on carbon dioxide.
Bolsonaro's provocative response
Without question, the deforestation of Brazil's part of the Amazon rainforest has spiked since Bolsonaro took office. While campaigning for president last year, Bolsonaro declared that Brazil’s vast protected lands were an obstacle to economic growth and promised to open them up to commercial exploitation.
Brazil's Environment Minister Ricardo Salles (R)  speaking next to Brazilian President Jair Bol...
Brazil's Environment Minister Ricardo Salles (R), speaking next to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in this photo provided by the Brazilian Presidency, has doubted deforestation data
Marcos CORREA, Brazilian Presidency/AFP/File
Protecting the Amazon has been at the heart of Brazil's environmental efforts for over twenty years, with the efforts actually reaching a point where the nation was showing some success in slowing the destruction and garnering international acclaim for its efforts.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said on Tuesday that roughly 2,254 square kilometers of the Amazon were cleared in July, a spike of 278 percent from a year earlier.
Just one week before the INPE released the new data, the institute’s chief, Ricardo Galvao was fired, and Environment Minister Ricardo Salles - an ally of Bolsonaro - charged that INPE published its data in a way that satisfied “sensationalist interpretations” aimed at getting “more donations from foreign NGOs."
Asked Sunday by a reporter about Brazil’s image abroad, Bolsonaro replied with another provocation: "You think that the big countries are interested in Brazil’s image, or do they want to appropriate Brazil?” he said.
More about Amazon rainforest, Brazil, bolsonaro, Deforestation, Amazon Fund
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