Earth’s most undisturbed area of rain forest will be protected for a century.
The world almost gave up on the Amazon. For years, there was little hope of stopping the destruction of forests. Then came the announcement in late 2006 by the governor of one Brazilian state of the protection of a massive swath – 37 million acres – of pristine rain forest in the northern Amazon.
“If any tropical rain forest on Earth remains intact a century from now, it will be this portion of northern Amazonia,” says CI President Russell Mittermeier.
The burning of tropical forests accounts for roughly 23 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions – that’s double the emissions from all the world’s cars, SUVs and trucks combined – making deforestation the second worst contributor to global warming. This announcement to save forests, then, has global ramifications and instantly made headlines around the world.
Why It’s Important
Since 1970, more than 232,000 square miles of Amazon rain forest – an area larger than France – has been destroyed. At this rate, the entire Amazon could be gone by 2050, a loss that would have dramatic effects on Earth’s climate and endanger us all.
Protecting extensive forest areas is the fastest and cheapest way to help curb climate change. It is also a top conservation priority because these forests are home to an extremely rich variety of animal and plant species, including jaguars, anteaters and colorful macaws.
“I cannot remember any single announcement like this,” says José Maria Cardoso da Silva, vice president of science for CI-Brazil. “This is one of the major conservation announcements of the last decades.”
The news from Pará Governor Simão Jatene was a key milestone among years of engagement in South America, where we work closely with governments, non-profits and communities to protect forests in the Amazon and those that depend on them.
This conservation achievement was realized with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, CI-Brazil and its local partner IMAZON. We are now working with partners to implement the new protected areas to ensure they remain for generations to come.