Amazonian Communities Urge International Action & Amazon.com Invests in Restoration

Image: Amazônia Real from Manaus AM, Brasil via Wikimedia Commons

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor

As wildfires and deforestation grip the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous communities are urging world governments to pledge to protect 80% of the forest by 2025. The groups launched their campaign at a biodiversity conference in France, where experts from around the world are laying the groundwork for the UN’s delayed COP15 biodiversity conference in Kunming, China. Meanwhile, tech giant Amazon along with the Nature Conservancy are making moves to protect the forest using new methods.

 

Why This Matters: The Amazon is one of the world’s largest carbon sinks and a crucial tool in the fight against climate change, but now, due to deforestation, it’s emitting more carbon than it absorbs. A study in Nature released last week projected that 21%-40% of the Amazon could be lost to deforestation and fires by 2050. The Brazilian government under President Jair Bolsonaro — despite the pleas of environmentalists, Indigenous communities, and other world governments — has made attacks on forest protections and environmental regulations. Now, environmental organizations, with the support of Amazon.com Inc., are turning to the public to ensure protections for the forest. 

 

Speaking Up

COICA, a group representing Indigenous groups in nine Amazon-basin nations, is urging the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to endorse its Amazonia for Life 80% by 2025 declaration. The group hopes that an endorsement at the ongoing World Conservation Congress in Marseille will catapult the declaration on to COP15. “We invite the global community to join us to reverse the destruction of our home and by doing so safeguard the future of the planet,” Jose Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, the lead coordinator for COICA, told Reuters.

 

Paying Out

Meanwhile, the Nature Conservancy and Amazon.com are taking their own approach to establish protections. Their initiative will provide sustainable income to Amazonian farmers in Brazil’s state of Pará, which has been losing 3,300 acres of forest per day for the last year, to discourage them from clearing land for increased agriculture. The effort will support 3,000 farmers and hopes to restore 49,400 acres of forest in the next 3 years. 

 

Amazon has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, but progress so far has been slow. The company’s carbon footprint has risen each year since it began disclosing its emissions in 2018. Still, it says this project could become much more. “I view it as a scaling vehicle,” says James Mulligan, a senior scientist at Amazon.com Inc. “What we’re trying to achieve in the project is basically how this region needs to transform if we’re going to stabilize the forest.”

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