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Brazilian States Bypass Bolsonaro to Discuss Rainforest Protection Funding Directly

FILE - The Amazon rainforest (L), bordered by deforested land prepared for the planting of soybeans, is pictured in this aerial photo taken over Mato Grosso state in western Brazil, Oct. 4, 2015.

Brazilian states containing the country's Amazon rainforest said they want to negotiate directly with European nations who fund projects to curb deforestation after changes proposed by the federal government led Norway and Germany to suspend donations.

Norway - by far the biggest donor to the Amazon Fund - said last week it had suspended its donations after the right-wing government of President Jair Bolsonaro changed the fund's governance structure and closed down the steering committee that selects the projects to back. Germany has also suspended its funding.

Waldez Góes, governor of Amapá state and president of an organization that groups the Amazon states, said in a statement over the weekend that the embassies of Norway and Germany had been informed of their willingness to negotiate.

The states of the Amazon region regretted that Bolsonaro's actions had led to a suspension of donations, the statement added.

"Governors of the Amazon bloc want to directly participate in decisions to reformulate Amazon Fund rules, which are being established by state-run development bank BNDES," Góes said.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro holds a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, Aug. 1, 2019.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro holds a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, Aug. 1, 2019.

The move comes amid increasing fears surrounding deforestation, which data suggest has soared since Bolsonaro took power in January. Bolsonaro has called for development of the Amazon.

The president lashed out at the move by the Europeans, and said Brazil would not take any lessons from donor countries.

Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon, the world's largest tropical forest, which is vital to countering global warming.