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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Minister of Environment in Brazil, José Sarney Filho, said over the weekend that data on the Amazon region should register a decrease of deforestation in the coming months. The statement by the minister was given one day after Norway’s government announced that it may significantly reduce financing to the Amazon Fund.

Brazil,President Michel Temer during a meeting with Norwegian Parliament Representatives,
President Michel Temer during a meeting with Norwegian Parliament Representatives in Oslo, Norway, photo by Beto Barata/PR.

According to Sarney Filho the upward deforestation curve shown the 2016 data will be reversed in the coming months.

“The deforestation increased as a result of the previous administration, not the result of our administration,” Sarney Filho told reporters during a press conference on Saturday, June 24th.

“When we took over, the budget of these [environmental] agencies was completely outdated. In November, the budget was completely rebuilt. The actions started in December and, are increasingly intense,” added the official trying to downplay a possible reduction of foreign financing to help curb deforestation in the Amazon region.

On Friday, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg warned that her country would cut off the contribution to the Amazon Fund if an increase in Amazon deforestation last year were confirmed, according to EFE news agency. Norway contributes approximately US$400 million to the fund annually.

“Our contribution is based on payments for results, a documented increase in deforestation will mean a reduction in Norway’s payments. If the provisional numbers for 2016 are confirmed, there will be a smaller contribution in 2017,” the Prime Minister told reporters.

Deforestation and the Amazon region was one of the topics discussed by the Prime Minister and Brazilian President Michel Temer on Friday, during the Brazilian leader’s official visit to the European country.

After meeting with Solberg, President Temer said in a statement that the environmental issue was one of the main topics discussed with Norwegian authorities.

“I want to emphasize, once again, the importance of Norway’s contributions to the Amazon Fund. They have allowed a more effective administrative policing, in order to avoid deforestation in our country, since Brazil is one of the great, if not the largest environmental reserve in the world,” President Temer told reporters.

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