Britain could join Amazon Fund to help Brazil control deforestation - UK minister

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Britain is considering joining the billion-dollar Amazon Fund reopened by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to finance sustainability in the rainforest, British environment minister Therese Coffey said.

"It is something we are seriously looking at," Coffey told Reuters on Monday in Brasilia, where she attended Lula's inauguration on Sunday.

She said the British government was already in talks with the current partners of the fund, Norway and Germany, who donated $1.2 billion to set up the initiative, about getting involved.

The fund was frozen by the previous far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro, citing irregularities among projects administered by NGOs without offering any proof.

One of Lula's first decisions in office was to revoke Bolsonaro policies that diluted environmental protection and helped contribute to deforestation that surged to a 15-year high, including a measure that encouraged mining on protected indigenous lands.

Lula also reopened the Amazon Fund.

Coffey said Britain has a lot to offer Brazil, from programs in rural sustainability and low carbon architecture to help in mobilizing funds with its strength as a global hub for green finance.

Britain is already Brazil's third largest collaborator on the environment, having committed more than 250 million pounds from its international pilot fund, she said.

Coffey met with Environment Minister Marina Silva, the Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro and Indigenous Peoples Minister Sonia Guajajara.

Indigenous communities were especially badly hit by the illegal mining that advanced alongside deforestation in the Amazon under Bolsonaro.

"I see a desire and intention to turn that around," she said.

Coffey added that Para Governor Helder Barbalho had invited her to visit his vast Amazon state to see projects in the rainforest, which she has never experienced before.

"I expect it to be life-changing," she said.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Alex Richardson)