SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Germany decided to suspend 35 million euros ($39 million) in funds sent to Brazil to finance projects aimed at preserving the Amazon forest due to increasing deforestation, Brazilian media outlets reported on Saturday.
The move reflects “great concerns with an increasing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon,” the German embassy in Brazil told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, adding that the cut does not affect the Amazon Fund, to which Germany is a key donor.
According to O Globo newspaper, the decision concerns only funds destined to new projects financed by the Ministry of Environment.
German diplomats could not be immediately reached for comment.
Deforestation in the Brazil’s rainforest surged 67% in the first seven months of the year, according to Brazil’s space research agency, though the government has claimed the data is unreliable and misleading.
Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain elected last year, has long been skeptical of environmental issues, and has repeatedly said the Amazon is a resource that belongs to Brazil, which Brazilians should choose how to administer.
Asked about Germany’s decision, Bolsonaro replied to journalists on Sunday: “Brazil does not need that.”
Reporting by Gabriela Mello; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker