Norway to complete $1 billion payment to Brazil for protecting Amazon

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will make a final $100-million payment to Brazil this year to complete a $1-billion project that rewards a slowdown in forest loss in the Amazon basin, Norway's Environment Ministry said on Tuesday. Brazil had more than achieved a goal of reducing the rate of deforestation by 75 percent, the condition for the payments under an agreement for 2008-15 meant to protect the forest and slow climate change, it said. The remaining cash would be paid before a U.N. summit on climate change in Paris in December, the ministry said. Since 2008, Norway has paid about $900 million to Brazil's Amazon Fund. "Brazil has established what has become a model for other national climate change funds," Norwegian Environment Minister Tine Sundtoft said in a statement. Norway, rich from offshore oil, has been the biggest donor to protect tropical rainforests, which soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when trees rot or are burnt to make way for farmland. Oslo is also financing projects to help protect forests in countries including Indonesia, Guyana, Liberia and Peru. Worldwide, the rate at which trees were cut down slowed for the third year in a row in 2014, but the area lost was still twice the size of Portugal, the U.S.-based think-tank World Resources Institute said on Sept. 2. "This is an outstanding example of the kind of international collaboration we need to ensure the future sustainability of our planet," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on the Brazilian deal. Brazil says the cash has helped its national efforts to slow deforestation. Brazilian President Dilma Roussef says she wants to reach a zero deforestation rate. A Norwegian ministry spokeswoman, Gunhild Oland Santos-Nedrelid, said Norway and Brazil were in talks about further collaboration. She did not give details. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Janet Lawrence)