Germany’s President visits German-Brazilian research station

Frank-Walter Steinmeier traveled with German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke to ATTO in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest

January 03, 2023

The future of the Amazon rainforest and its influence on the global climate were the focus of the visit by Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Steffi Lemke to the ATTO - Amazon Tall Tower Observatory in Brazil. The President and the Federal Minister for the Environment visited the German-Brazilian research station, in which the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz participate, on January 2nd.

"The rainforest is our basis for life and this basis is in danger. At least 19 to 20 percent of the rainforest's pristine area has already been lost to deforestation," Steinmeier said. This makes the Amazon rainforest a focal point in the fight against the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity. Protecting it better in the future is an important task for Brazil, but one that requires global support, not least from Germany.  For this reason, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Steffi Lemke visited the German-Brazilian research station ATTO in the central Amazon rainforest during their trip to attend the inauguration of Brazil's new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. "Among the many projects we have set ourselves for the New Year, climate protection and the protection of the rainforests are at the top of the agenda," Steinmeier emphasized at the foot of the ATTO tower.  

Tour of the 325-metre high tower, the laboratories, and the areas for field experiments

"Brazil's tropical rainforest, with its biodiversity and importance as a water and carbon reservoir, is a pillar of the global climate system," added Environment Minister Steffi Lemke. "Its protection is central for local people and for addressing the two ecological crises - the climate crisis and species extinction. ATTO is an excellent example of successful German-Brazilian scientific cooperation and contributes significantly to a better understanding of the Amazon forest, biodiversity and the impacts of the climate crisis on this unique ecosystem."

As part of the ATTO project, scientists are investigating the complex interactions between the largest tropical rainforest on earth, the atmosphere and the global climate. Susan Trumbore, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and coordinator of the ATTO project, gave the delegation a tour of the research station. Steinmeier and Lemke explored the station's research towers, including the namesake 325-meter tower, which they climbed to the first intermediate platform at a height of 54 meters. The tour also took the two German politicians to the laboratories with numerous measuring instruments for analyzing the atmosphere, and to areas where researchers are conducting field experiments to study the ecology of the rainforest.

Long-term data help to understand the rainforest ecosystem

Steinmeier and Lemke were impressed by the high-tech site that has been created in the middle of the Brazilian rainforest to conduct multidisciplinary research. "The pulse of the world's climate is being taken here, so to speak”, Steinmeier concluded.

"It is a very special honor and distinction for us that German President Steinmeier and Environment Minister Lemke are visiting the ATTO site on their trip to Brazil," said Susan Trumbore. "I think we were able to convey to them the importance of the Amazon rainforests and the contribution we are making with our research." Collecting data over the long term and looking at it in an interdisciplinary way is critical to better understand how the rainforest ecosystem functions, she noted. "Only then will we be able to make reliable predictions about the future of the Amazon," the Max Planck director said. "The fact that the federal government and also the Brazilian government are supporting us in this endeavor enables us, in intensive cooperation with our colleagues in Brazil, to focus on advancing our research."


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