Switzerland and the United States have donated $8 million to Brazil’s fund to fight Amazon deforesting and preserve the world’s largest tropical rainforest. On Tuesday, the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) that manages the fund said that Switzerland contributed 5 million Swiss francs ($5.4 million) and the United States $3 million. The contribution will help Brazil achieve its goal of reaching zero deforestation by 2030.
The Brazilian Amazon is a unique biome with iconic forests, rich biodiversity, and critical ecosystem services that regulate global climate and support food production. It also supports a diverse human population of about 28 million, spanning over 12,000 indigenous and traditional communities that speak 150 languages. These people have sustainably managed the area for thousands of years, domesticating native plants of global economic value, such as coffee and coca. They also have a long history of managing other resources, such as water and timber, through land rights.
However, the region is afflicted by deforestation, forest degradation, greenhouse gas emissions, infectious disease outbreaks, social conflicts, and poverty. In addition, the continued expansion of infrastructure, such as roads, fuels encroachment on natural areas by farmers and developers and drives land speculation and conflict.
Recent calls for improved socio-ecological governance in the Brazilian Amazon have highlighted the need to reduce incentives for deforestation and forest degradation through broader economic and social transition strategies that empower local communities toward a more sustainable and resilient “forest Amazon” with a more balanced mix of economic activities that is not solely dependent on resource extraction. This approach is called forest landscape restoration (FLR). It combines passive and active approaches to forest recovery, reforestation, and landscape-scale interventions such as land-use planning, agroforestry, and restoration ecology with societal objectives and trade-offs at the landscape level.
To make FLR a viable strategy, the Brazilian government has adopted several new laws and policies to improve deforestation control, including the Brazilian Forest Law, which provides incentives for sustainable development and the preservation of forest-rich regions. In addition, the federal and state governments have adopted various measures to improve forest governance’s efficiency, accountability, and legitimacy.
But the future of the Brazilian Amazon is at stake as Jair Bolsonaro has assumed the presidency, introducing an antienvironmental discourse and dismantling critical environmental structures without replacing them. These actions, which include reducing the Ministry of Environment’s staffing and limiting civil society participation, could undermine the government’s efforts to conserve the region.