Waterfall Ichuan-Prarara
Nature protection

Nature protection

The rainforest as a green lung

The famous photographer Sebastião Salgado has succeeded in planting 2.5 million trees on his parents’ farm in his native Brazil. He now wants to share his experience with KfW, which is working on a new reforestation project in Brazil. 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, Brazil is currently facing criticism for slowing progress in climate change mitigation rather than pioneering it. This was not the case just recently?

In fact, Brazil has managed to significantly slow the pace of deforestation since 2004. Deforestation steadily declined until 2014, but since then there has been a renewed increase, which threatens to accelerate under the current government. The idea of financially rewarding regions that can demonstrate measurable success in the fight against deforestation was discussed at the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change in Montreal as early as 2005. This gave rise to the REDD approach, which is also supported by KfW in Brazil. 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. Even though the overall conditions have become more difficult, these initiatives are still underway. The Amazon is still under threat, particularly from the spread of livestock farming, while in the Cerrado savannah, for example, deforestation can be primarily attributed to the spread of modern farming practices, mainly for soy.

Continue reading under the before and after photo that shows the transformation.

Before – after

The land owned by Sebastião Salgado’s environmental protection organisation Instituto Terra before and after reforestation. Use the mouse pointer and drag the arrow to the left to see how it has changed.


Founded in 1952, the BNDES (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social), based in Rio de Janeiro, is one of the world’s largest development banks and the Brazilian government’s most important instrument for financing investment in the country’s economy. BNDES is an important partner of KfW and a member of the association of development banks IDFC.

Is KfW pursuing any other approaches?

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 now aim to use the instrument of low-interest loans. The core principle is that in certain circumstances and subject to the right regulatory requirements, afforestation can also be financially worthwhile for farmers. KfW’s programme that is currently being planned with the Brazilian development bank BNDES aims to reforest an area as large as one hundred thousand hectares within five years of the contract being signed. This is equivalent to the area of the cities of Paris and Berlin combined.

Video interview
Sebastião e Lélia Salgado

Sebastião and Lélia Salgado’s reforestation project is unprecedented. The photographer, honoured with the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 2019, told us more about it in the video interview.

To the video interview

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

Mr Salgado and his wife set up Instituto Terra, an environmental protection organisation that has succeeded in planting new trees in the Rio Doce valley within a period of twenty 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 about ways to reforest part of the Atlantic rainforest along the coast, which is also threatened. After all, we are both pursuing the same goal: protecting the environment and adapting to climate change.

Published on KfW Stories: 22 June 2018, last updated: 17 October 2019.


All United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda in 2015. At its heart is a list of 17 goals for sustainable development, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our world should become a place where people are able to live in peace with each other in ways that are ecologically compatible, socially just, and economically effective.