Colombia's Amazon tribes tap into rainforest protection funds

(Reuters News, 15 Jan 2020) Involving native tribal communities is critical to saving the threatened Amazon rainforest, says environment minister.

Colombia is asking indigenous Amazon tribes to suggest ways to spend more than $7 million available to fight deforestation, the nation's environment minister said on Wednesday, part of an international effort to protect the threatened rainforest.

Involving native tribal communities is critical to saving the Amazon, which in Colombia covers about 26 million hectares (100,387 square miles), said Environment Minister Ricardo Lozano at a news conference.

Protecting the Amazon, the world's largest tropical rainforest, is considered vital for slowing global climate change because of the vast amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide it absorbs.

The more than $7 million on offer to Colombia's Amazon indigenous tribes is part of hundreds of millions of dollars provided by Norway, Germany and Britain to a United Nations-backed anti-deforestation effort called REDD+ that provides funds to countries for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

"For this government, indigenous communities are fundamental in the construction, definition and implementation of specific policies and actions that guarantee the conservation of their cultural and environmental values," said Lozano.

"That is why we value their knowledge and wisdom," he said.

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Reuters News, 15 Jan 2020: Colombia's Amazon tribes tap into rainforest protection funds