Brazil says it could reduce illegal deforestation with billion-dollar aid

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If Brazil received a billion dollars in aid from the international community, it would be able to reduce illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by up to 40%, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said on Friday during a conference. interview with AFP.

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“If we had this resource of a billion dollars (…) from the month of May and for a period of 12 months, it is possible to commit to a reduction of 30 to 40% of deforestation” , he said in an interview in Brasilia.

This estimate comes after the letter sent Thursday by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to his American counterpart Joe Biden in which he reiterates his “commitment to eradicate all illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030” – a commitment made by his country when signing the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

The far-right leader had specified that this objective could only be achieved with “significant means” and that he hoped to count on “all the support possible” from the international community, businesses and civil society, without advance by number.

The United States, which is organizing a virtual climate summit on April 22 and 23 with the leaders of some 40 countries, including Brazil, on Friday welcomed the Brazilian president’s commitment, but called for “immediate measures” to get “real results”.

The cacique Raoni Metuktire, iconic defender of the Amazon rainforest, immediately warned Joe Biden against what he called Jair Bolsonaro’s “lies”.

“If that bad president tells you anything, ignore him. He wants to allow deforestation and stimulate intrusions on our land, ”said the indigenous leader in a video posted on social networks.

This possible aid of a billion dollars (830 million euros) would serve, according to Mr. Salles, to strengthen “the actions of control [contre la déforestation illégale] and, at the same time, to create an alternative economic option ”for the 25 million people who live in the northern region of the Amazon, one of the poorest in Brazil despite its vast natural resources.

Since the coming to power in early 2019 of Jair Bolsonaro, favorable to the mining and agricultural exploitation of natural reserves and indigenous territories, deforestation and forest fires in the Amazon have reached extremely worrying levels.

Between August 2019 and July 2020, deforestation increased by 9.5% compared to the previous 12 months.

“Brazil will get results” in its fight against deforestation of the largest tropical forest on the planet, promises Ricardo Salles.