Brazil to launch grants for poor families protecting Amazon rainforest

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Environment Minister Marina Silva attends an interview with Reuters in Brasilia, Brazil March 24, 2023. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s government will launch a social program to pay additional grants to poor families that work in forest protection, environment minister Marina Silva said on Monday, in a bid to boost protection of the Amazon rainforest.

The program, called Bolsa Verde, would be initially implemented across Brazil’s Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, but Silva said the government intends to expand it to the country’s other biomes, which include the Atlantic Forest and tropical Cerrado savanna.

It is unclear when the program, which will initially issue payments to 30,000 families, will be launched. Brazilian far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro in 2019 had suspended a similar program.

“Worldwide, 80% of protected forests are under the control of these traditional communities,” Silva told reporters, saying that people would be paid for their services in protecting the environment.

Silva’s comments come after the government announced a series of plans to meet a pledge to eliminate Amazon deforestation by 2030, by strengthening law enforcement against environmental crimes amid other measures.

The president’s environmental agenda, however, met setbacks last week, when lawmakers approved bills curtailing the powers of the country’s environment and Indigenous affairs ministries, and limiting the recognition of new Indigenous reservations.

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