Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has signed a decree creating a
fund that will seek donations from developed countries to help protect the
Amazon rainforest and combat global warming.
Officials said the fund could raise as much as £10.5 billion by 2021 for
projects promoting alternatives to rainforest destruction, protecting nature
preserves and developing scientific and technological advances to protect the
"Brazil will certainly assume its responsibility to preserve the Amazon, to
combat global warming," Silva said at a ceremony at Brazil's National
Development Bank, which is charged with administering the fund.
But even as he sought to attract foreign money, Silva took a swipe at
international concerns over Brazil's stewardship of the world's largest
remaining tropical wilderness.
Other countries "talk as if they own the Amazon, but we know what it represents
to humanity and to Brazil. And what needs to be done will be done", he said.
Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the fund is essential for promoting a new
development model for the impoverished region, covering nearly 60% of the
"Our war isn't against last month's deforestation numbers, it's against a model
that leaves people impoverished and that destroys the rainforest," Minc said.
Environmentalists said the fund may be more important for what it symbolises
than for how much money it eventually raises.
"This is the first time Brazil is accepting the link between global warming and
preserving the forest," said Sergio Leitao, director of public policies for
Greenpeace Brasil. "For a long time, Brazil was violently opposed to this,
insisting fossil fuel was to blame. That's true, historically speaking, but
today forests play an important role."
Logging and burning in the Amazon releases an estimated 400 million tons of
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, accounting for up to 80% of
Brazil's greenhouse gases - and making the country one of the world's highest
sources of emissions.