| RIO DE JANEIRO
RIO DE JANEIRO May 21 Brazil's government, the
World Wildlife Fund and various partners are expected to unveil
an agreement on Wednesday that would establish a $215 million
fund for conservation of protected jungle in the Amazon
The fund, which seeks to ensure conservation of over 90
protected areas in the Amazon, comes as renewed developmental
pressures mount in the region, resulting last year in an uptick
in deforestation figures after years of record lows.
Under the terms of the agreement, partners in the fund will
make annual contributions to help Brazil meet financing needs
for the protected lands, whose combined area totals more than 60
million hectares, or an area 20 percent larger than Spain.
Contributions, partners said, will be contingent upon
conditions required of Brazil, including audits of the
government body that will administer the fund and continued
staffing and financing of government offices required to
administer the rainforest areas.
Money from the fund would be used for a range of basic
conservation measures, including fences and signs to delineate
protected areas and to pay for vehicles used to patrol them.
Through the agreement, "the government of Brazil is
committing to the budget and the regulations that are needed to
secure future financing for the Brazilian Amazon," said Carter
Roberts, chief executive of the WWF, the non-governmental
organization that helped organize the fund, in an interview.
Officials at the Brazilian environment ministry, which said
it would make an announcement regarding financing for protected
lands on Wednesday, did not return calls seeking comment.
Brazil's government through 2012 made large inroads against
deforestation, largely through strict environmental enforcement
and financial measures that blocked credit for companies and
individuals caught doing business with loggers, ranchers,
farmers or others known to exploit illegally cleared land.
In recent years, however, the government has made changes to
environmental agencies and regulations that critics say make it
easier for would-be developers to target protected areas. The
government has also altered borders of some parkland to make way
for infrastructure projects, including hydroelectric dams on
various Amazon tributaries.
Financing for the new fund, expected to pay out over 25
years, was secured from private and public sources including the
German government, the Inter-American Development Bank, the
World Bank, philanthropists and the Amazon Fund, an existing
facility financed mostly by the Norwegian government and
administered by Brazil's national development bank.
Together, the forest zones targeted by the fund are known as
the Amazon Region Protected Areas, or ARPA, a program
established in 2002 to coordinate financing and conservation
strategy in the region.
Whereas previous financing for the effort relied on
cumulative fundraising efforts, partners this time agreed to an
all-or-nothing approach, borrowed from private-sector financing
practices, to build momentum toward a target total. The $215
million is the amount calculated as necessary to help the
Brazilian government, over the 25 years, become self-sufficient
in terms of financing the rainforest areas.
"The effort is really about understanding that it takes the
Brazilian government time to get there," Roberts said. "This is
continuity and support over time to close the gap."
(Reporting by Paulo Prada; editing by Andrew Hay)