Brazil environment minister questions Amazon Fund efficiency

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's environment minister is questioning the efficiency of a fund created to limit deforestation in the Amazon.

Ricardo Salles said there were numerous "irregularities" in contracts signed between the fund and nongovernmental organizations and asked whether it significantly contributed to the rainforest's preservation.

He spoke Friday during a press conference at the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources.

Salles said the environment ministry evaluated a quarter of the fund's 103 current contracts and problems were found "in 100% of them." He declined to cite specific cases until they were reviewed by auditors.

The Amazon Fund was created in 2008 to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation in the 7 million square kilometer (2.7 million square mile) area. Data shows Norway contributed $1.2 billion to its activities from 2008-2018.