BRASILIA, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Germany on Monday pledged 200 million euros ($217 million) to help Brazil defend the Amazon rainforest, a global ecosystem devastated during years of rule under former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
The sum, in credits and donations, was announced in the capital Brasilia where German Chancellor Olaf Scholz became the first Western leader to visit since President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in on Jan. 1.
The visit was a show of German support for Brazilian democracy following riots by supporters of Bolsonaro, Lula’s far-right predecessor, Scholz told a news conference.
Germany’s Development Minister Svenja Schulze told reporters the German government recognized Brazil’s new leftist administration was working hard to show results in reducing deforestation in its first 100 days in office.
The sum includes a donation of 35 million euros ($38 million) to the Amazon Fund to strengthen a billion-dollar initiative funded by Norway and Germany to protect the South American rainforest and fight deforestation.
The Amazon Fund was re-activated by Brazil’s Environment Minister Marina Silva the day she took office vowing to halt deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
It had been frozen since 2019, when Bolsonaro abolished its governing board and action plans. As president Bolsonaro said Brazilians had the right to develop natural resources in the Amazon.
The German assistance includes socio-environmental projects to support Brazilian states in the Amazon rainforest and low-interest loans to farmers for the reforestation of their land, a statement issued by Brazil said.
Silva said money from the Amazon Fund would be used in emergencies including the indigenous health crisis in northern Brazil, where the Yanomami people have been suffering from malnutrition and other diseases caused by an invasion of illegal gold miners.
“I have no doubt there was a genocidal attitude towards indigenous communities,” she said, blaming the Bolsonaro administration for the neglect. Lula last week declared a medical emergency in the Yanomami territory, the country’s largest indigenous reservation.