Brazil's Amazon Fund to finance for-profit projects: report

SAO PAULO: Brazil's Amazon Fund, which collects money from around the world to protect the Amazon rainforest, could bankroll for-profit environmental projects as well as non-profit ones, the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo reported Monday.

Environment Minister Carlos Minc told the daily that "some for-profit companies could benefit, but they will be small ones that create sustainable employment."

The revelation undermined initial suggestions that the fledgling fund would finance only projects from non-governmental organizations promoting environmental preservation of the Amazon.

Minc said the fund's board, which included government and indigenous representatives, approved the move as long as "very rigid criteria" were applied to the companies.

The fund has already received 110 million dollars from the government of Norway, which has pledged a total one billion dollars over the next seven years if it is shown deforestation has slowed significantly. Germany has also promised 18 million dollars.

Official data released early this month showed that Amazon deforestation in June was four times more devastating than in May, based on satellite images analyzed by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research.

A total of 578 square kilometers (223 square miles) of Amazon woodland was burned or cut down by ranchers and farmers.

Between July 2008 and June 2009, more than 4,700 square kilometers of Amazon jungle has disappeared.