Killing two birds with one stone or how to combine environmental preservation and poverty eradication. This is the challenge of a social program that President Lula wants to revive in Brazil.
Called "Bolsa verde", literally "Green Scholarship", it aims to financially support the indigenous peoples of the Amazon who are committed to protecting their forest. Marina Silva, its environment minister, an emblematic figure of the Amazon cause, announced it on Monday as part of a broader plan against deforestation.
"Globally, 80% of protected forests are under the control of traditional communities," the former activist commented. "Bolsa verde" echoes "Bolsa familia," the flagship project of Lula's first term that lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty.
This time, it is not a question of caring for and educating his children to receive monthly assistance but of taking care of the forest. Without having the massive impact of agribusiness, subsistence family farming also accelerates the destruction of the lungs of the planet.
Initially, "Bolsa verde" will pay some 30,000 families. In 2011, when the initiative was launched – before being abolished by Jair Bolsonaro in 2019 – the purse amounted to 300 reals (equivalent today to 57 euros). The maximum monthly income to receive it was 85 reals (16 euros). In exchange, the families agreed to preserve 80% of the forest on their plot.