Waterfall Ichuan-Prarara
Nature protection

Nature protection

The rainforest as a green lung

Unprecedented accomplishment: the famous photographer Sebastião Salgado has succeeded in planting 2.5 million trees on his parents' farm in his native Brazil. He showed that it is possible to save the rainforest. He now wants to share his experience with KfW, which is working on a new reforestation project in Brazil. In a video interview with KfW Stories, Sebastião Salgado talks about the most important project of his life. KfW Senior Project Manager Karim ould Chih reports on KfW's involvement in Brazil and the fight against deforestation.

About Mr ould Chih
Karim ould Chih

Karim ould Chih works as KfW Project Manager in Brazil.

Mr ould Chih, today Brazil sees itself as a pioneer in climate change mitigation. For many years, however, the Amazon rainforest was threatened...

Unfortunately, it still is, largely due to the spread of cattle farming in the Amazon region. In the Cerrado savannah, deforestation can be primarily attributed to the spread of modern farming practices. But Brazil has succeeded in significantly reducing the pace of deforestation in recent years. By 2030, the government plans to completely stop deforestation in the Amazon and reforest an area covering 12 million hectares, which is roughly equivalent to the size of Switzerland and Austria combined.

How has deforestation been reduced?

The idea of giving financial rewards to regions that can demonstrate measurable success in the fight against deforestation was discussed at the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change in Montreal in 2005. This gave rise to the REDD approach, which is also supported by KfW. Brazil has also undertaken to reallocate these funds to forest conservation and in 2008 established the Amazon Fund, in which KfW also participates on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Interview with photographer Sebastião Salgado about his life's work and his commitment to the rainforest (KfW Group/Thomas Schuch).

The land owned by Sebastião Salgado's environmental organisation Instituto Terra before and after reforestation


The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) is the main financing agent for development in Brazil. Since its foundation, in 1952, the BNDES has played a fundamental role in stimulating the expansion of industry and infrastructure in the country. BNDES is an important partner of KfW and member of the IDFC, a network of 23 national and regional development banks.

What makes this fund so special?

The basic idea is that the rainforest can only survive with the help of the local habitants. Instead of focusing on monitoring and restrictions as was the case in the past, the fund finances sustainable projects from which people benefit, such as, sustainable agriculture and management of indigenous protected areas. This increases acceptance of and support for forest policy.

What is KfW doing in the area of reforestation in Brazil?

We are currently testing a completely new approach: for the first time loans are being granted to plant new trees. In Brazil, we previously financed environmental protection projects with government grants, but we are now using the instrument of low-interest loans. KfW's programme with the Brazilian development bank BNDES alone aims to reforest an area as large as 100,000 hectares within five years of contract signature. This is equivalent to the area of the cities of Paris and Berlin combined.

Read more under the image gallery.

Sebastião e Lélia Salgado

Sebastião and Lélia Salgado are committed to environmental protection. Their reforestation project is unprecedented.

What does KfW have to do with the famous photographer Sebastião Salgado?

Mr Salgado and his wife set up Instituto Terra, an environmental organisation that has succeeded in planting four million new trees in the Rio Doce valley in just a few years. This is an unprecedented accomplishment in Brazil. Other regions of the country can also benefit from this experience. This is why we are talking – together with the WWF – about ways to reforest the Cerrado savannah, the Amazon and the Atlantic rainforest along the coast. After all, we are both pursuing the same goal: protecting the environment and adapting to climate change.

Published on KfW Stories: Friday, 22 June 2018