Aerial view of the rainforest in the Anavilhanas National Park in Manaus, Brazil

Core area “Conservation and sustainable use of tropical forests” Stopping deforestation, securing farmers' incomes

The area covered by tropical forests in Brazil measures 4.8 million square kilometres; this is ten per cent of the total area in the world covered by tropical forests. With 2.5 million different species of animals and plants, Brazil is the most biodiverse country in the world. The BMZ is providing a range of support to assist the Brazilian government in protecting the rainforest and using it in a responsible way.

Some of the topics addressed by this cooperation are, for example, managing protected areas, land rights issues and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Furthermore, the BMZ is supporting the setting-up of a rural environmental land register. Since 2014, it has been mandatory for all land owners to inform the authorities about the size of the properties they are managing. They are required by law to conserve or restore protected areas.

Sustainable development of the Amazon region

Deforestation in the Brazilian state of Maranhão

Deforestation in the Brazilian state of Maranhão

Deforestation in the Brazilian state of Maranhão

Germany and Norway are financial contributors to the Amazon Fund of the Brazilian development bank BNDES. Resources allocated from the Fund are meant to reward demonstrable achievements in protecting the rainforest. In 2012, after many very successful years, a change set in and progress declined. Since 2019, there has been a massive new increase in deforestation. In addition, at the start of 2019, the Brazilian government unilaterally revoked the agreed appointments to the Fund’s awarding body. Since then there have been no more commitments from the Fund for new measures.

Germany and Norway are very interested in reviving the Amazon Fund. In order for this to happen, however, the level of illegal deforestation will need to decline and an agreement will have to be reached regarding appointments to the awarding committee.

Furthermore, at the government negotiations in 2019, it was agreed that the BMZ will, in future, expand its cooperation with the federal states in the Amazon region. The intention is to provide support for forest monitoring instruments and for income-generating measures aimed at fostering environmentally sound sustainable forest management.

Supporting smallholder agriculture

Since the absence of clearly defined land ownership in the Amazon region often leads to violent conflicts over land, the BMZ is supporting the regularisation of land tenure. Under the national programme “Terra Legal”, state-owned land is to be transferred to smallholder families. The land titles give people the legal certainty that they can farm their land on a long-term basis and thus secure a livelihood for themselves. Germany also supports Brazil’s approach of harnessing the sustainable use of rainforest resources as an incentive for protecting the rainforest.


Back in 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the international community issued a call to preserve the world’s rainforests. German development cooperation with Brazil has been massively shaped by that goal ever since: between 1992 and 2009, the BMZ made available more than 300 million euros for a G7 pilot programme to conserve Brazil’s tropical rainforests (PPG7). Overall, Germany was Brazil’s most important partner during that period and was also the biggest contributor to the World Bank’s Rainforest Trust Fund.

Under the pilot programme, significant areas of the Amazon and of the Atlantic coastal forests were declared protected zones, and indigenous territories were designated.

Brazil’s Amazon Fund was the first national forest and climate protection fund to be established worldwide. In the period from 2004 to 2018, the annual rate of deforestation in the Amazon region declined by more than 70 per cent. Since 2019, however, there has been a marked increase in deforestation once again.

Still image from the BMZ explanatory film "Is soy farming destroying our climate?"
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