Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives to support a proposed bill that could help local communities around the world fight climate change by protecting the forests they depend on.
Amazonia, by the numbers
The Amazon forest hosts the richest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet.
Amazonia’s river system also supplies hydropower for millions of people.
The region is home to as many people as Tokyo, Mexico City and New York City combined.
The forests of Amazonia — the vast Amazon River basin and the Guiana Shield in South America — are rapidly vanishing. Nearly 6,000 square kilometers (3,600 square miles) of forests were lost in 2015 in the Brazilian Amazon alone. If this continues, humanity faces the irrevocable loss of one of the great harbors of biodiversity, fresh water and climate resilience: Forests alone provide 30 percent of the solution to climate change.
The next five years are critically important for Amazonia. Increasing global demand for resources risks further deforestation that places the region, its people and the world at risk. With this in mind, Conservation International and its partners are pursuing an ambitious strategy to sustain nature in Amazonia so it can continue to sustain us all.
Unsustainable agricultural expansion, road development and extractive industries are unnecessarily destroying the forests of Amazonia and the services they provide (such as flood control and carbon storage). Human activities have already removed 10 percent of the Amazon rainforest, an area twice the size of Texas.
Conservation International’s goal: to achieve zero net deforestation in Amazonia to protect essential resources, mitigate climate change and increase prosperity for people.
Breaking Conservation News
In this map, Amazonia is divided into three “zones”: Green, yellow and red.
- Green Zone: The approximately 45% of Amazonia that is composed of forest formally designated as protected areas or indigenous lands and territories.
- Yellow Zone: The estimated 46% of Amazonia that is currently mostly forest, for which use (or protection) has not yet been formally defined.
- Red Zone: The remaining 9% of Amazonia has already been converted to agriculture, developed into cities, or degraded to meet demand for food, homes, power and jobs.
1. Strengthen and expand the Green Zone
Approximately 44% of Amazonia falls within the “Green Zone,” where Conservation International will help to consolidate and strengthen management of existing protected areas and indigenous lands and territories. Even in these protected areas, to date 3% of their forests have already been deforested. Conservation International will emphasize the income-generating potential of protected areas (such as ecotourism and trust funds), while promoting sustainable development, benefit sharing and conflict resolution for lasting conservation.
2. Avoid deforestation in the Yellow Zone
The most at-risk zone, the “Yellow Zone” is the front line for turning the tide of destruction, as it encompasses large areas of relatively pristine forest not yet designated for protection — or for production. Conservation International’s approach includes advising on the establishment of new protected areas and indigenous lands and territories; expanding programs that encourage people to protect their forests by giving them economic benefits; increasing access to climate financing for zero deforestation; and promoting adoption of natural capital accounting as a framework for long-term sustainable development.
3. Increase sustainable production in the Red Zone
In the “Red Zone,” where Amazonia’s forests have already been lost or heavily degraded, Conservation International will promote sustainable agriculture and smart development planning to reduce poverty and minimize the impact of infrastructure and mineral extraction — two of the main drivers of deforestation in these more densely populated areas. From securing private-sector commitments on deforestation-free supply chains to integrating biodiversity and ecosystem management into infrastructure and extractive development, Conservation International aims to prevent further forest loss.
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