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Bolsonaro: Brazil doesn't need Germany's biodiversity funds

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday dismissed the importance of Germany's funding of sustainability projects in the South American country's forests, as the European nation weighed withdrawing from the region.

"The country doesn't need this," the far-right president known for his ties to agribusiness told reporters about a possible loss of German funding in Brazil's vast Amazon rainforest. Citing Environment Minister Svenja Schulz, German daily Tagesspiegel reported Saturday the government planned to stop sending money to a country that is not fully committed to curbing deforestation in the Amazon. According to Tagesspiegel, the ministry is planning to initially freeze some 35 million euros ($39.6 million).

Among the projects that could suffer is the Amazon Fund, created in 2008 to receive donations to help prevent, monitor and combat deforestation in the Amazon. Germany is one of the fund's three main contributors, along with Norway — the fund's top contributor — and Brazilian state oil giant Petrobras.

The Bolsonaro administration has questioned the efficiency of the Amazon Fund and pushed for an internal overhaul, threatening to lose funding from Norway and Germany. Bolsonaro and his environment minister have also questioned official numbers on deforestation rates in the Amazon published by the National Institute for Space Research, leading to the departure of the institute's president.

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