From: Fernando Exman, Reuters
Published September 17, 2008 08:57 AM

Norway pledges $1 billion to Brazil Amazon Fund

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Norway will donate $1 billion to Brazil's Amazon protection fund through 2015, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday, to help Brazil fight deforestation.

Norway, the first country to pledge money to the fund, will donate as much as $130 million next year, the Norwegian Embassy in Brasilia said.

But the money will only be handed over if Brazil shows deforestation was reduced in the previous year, Stoltenberg told reporters during a visit to Brazil.

"The Norwegian government has decided to contribute one billion U.S. dollars to the Amazon Fund," he said.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launched the international fund in August. It aims to raise $21 billion over 13 years to finance conservation and sustainable development in the Amazon.

"We support Brazil's government and its efforts to preserve the forest and stop deforestation," Stoltenberg said.

"The precondition is that we can look at all of the documentation showing that deforestation is being reduced."

Deforestation has been accelerating steadily in the world's largest rainforest. Recent data showed deforestation slowed in July but Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the total area razed this year may still increase this year.

Lula welcomed the donation and said it increased the pressure on Brazil to deliver.

"This increases our responsibility to do what we are already doing today, better," he said.

The Amazon Fund will support forest conservation through scientific research and sustainable development projects such as rubber tapping, forestry management and the creation of drugs from plants.

(Reporting by Fernando Exman; writing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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