BRASILIA - Norway, the major donor to the Amazon Fund, said the initiative for backing forest protection had been re-activated now that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was back in office and vowing to halt deforestation.

"Brazil's new President has signaled a clear ambition to stop deforestation by 2030," Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment Espen Barth Eide said in a statement on Monday announcing revival of the fund, which is aimed at fighting removal of vegetation in the Amazon.

"He has reinstated strategies to make this happen, and appointed ministers with substantial knowledge and expertise in the area," Barth Eide said.

The fund still holds about 3.4 billion reais ($620 million).

It has been frozen since August 2019, when former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro abolished its governing board and action plans.

In 2008 in an earlier term as president, Lula set up the fund to receive international contributions to Brazil's efforts to stop deforestation. It receives payments only after deforestation is reduced; the funds are then spent on more such initiatives.

Norway initially donated $1.2 billion, with Germany also contributing.

Among his first decisions after taking office for a new presidential term on Sunday, Lula signed a decree reinstating the governing board of the Amazon Fund, with broad representation from civil society and other stakeholders.

He also signed decrees re-establishing Brazil's strategies to reduce Amazon deforestation, the rate of which surged to a 15-year high under Bolsonaro. Furthermore, Lula revoked policies that had diluted environmental protection, including a measure that encouraged mining on protected indigenous lands.

Re-establishment of the fund "is globally significant," Barth Eide said. "The Amazon Fund gives the international community a great opportunity to contribute."

Britain is considering joining the fund, its environment minister, Therese Coffey, told Reuters in Brasilia on Monday.

($1 = 5.4797 reais)

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bradley Perrett)