Breaking Conservation News

Receive news, views and features from the front line of conservation, straight to your inbox.

Thank You

Amazonia:
8 facts you need to know

You know that the Amazon rainforest is important to humanity. But do you know why?

The world’s largest tropical forest spans nine countries and is home to some 30 million people and counting. It generates oxygen, it affects weather patterns the world over, it’s critical for preventing a climate crisis — and it’s facing perhaps the gravest threat in its 55-million-year existence: deforestation caused by humans. Why is Amazonia so important? Why is it worth protecting? And what happens if we don’t?

Here are 8 things you should know.

 

© Conservation International/photo by Katrin Olson

Amazonia boasts the richest biodiversity …

… of any ecosystem on the planet, with at least 10% of the world’s known species of wildlife found there.1 One region in the Ecuadorian Amazon is regarded as the most biodiverse area of land in the world2, boasting more diverse species of trees in a given hectare of forest than all of North America. Tweet this fact »

 

© filipefrazao

Amazonia stores (so much) carbon

The world’s forests absorb about 7.6 billion metric tons of carbon each year.3 The Amazon rainforest does much of the heavy lifting, accounting for 1.2 billion metric tons of that carbon storage4 — more than any other tropical forest — and is one of humanity’s greatest hopes for regulating the climate. Tweet this fact »

 

© Cristina Mittermeier

Amazonia is home to Indigenous stewards

Indigenous peoples manage 35% of Latin America's forests and nearly half of the forests in the Amazon Basin.5 They are some of the Amazon’s best protectors — and they are severely threatened by changing land rights. Tweet this fact »

 

© Flavio Forner

Amazonia is shrinking fast

Over the last 60 years, nearly 20% of the Amazon has been deforested6 — an area nearly the size of Alaska.7 Tweet this fact »

 

 

Breaking News

The latest news about the Amazon, conservation and more. Straight to your inbox.

 

© Luana Luna

Amazonia is nearing a catastrophic ‘tipping point’

Continued deforestation risks transforming the Amazon’s rainforest ecosystem. Scientists say that once a certain percentage of the forest is lost, the Amazon will hit an ecological “tipping point”8 that could see the forests irretrievably degrade into drylands. Tweet this fact »

 

© Pete Oxford/iLCP

The Amazon can help halt climate change

Protecting and restoring tropical forests and mangroves would account for at least 30% of the global action needed to avoid the worst climate scenarios.9 Reforestation could also help some of the most vulnerable communities adapt to an already changing climate. Tweet this fact »

 

© Flavio Forner

The Amazon can — and must — be restored

Luckily, the Amazonia ecosystem is incredibly resilient. In fact, most of the deforested areas can regenerate trees on their own, but only if humans give them enough time and space to grow. Tweet this fact »

 

© INVEMAR-Fundación Natura

Things are being done to tackle this crisis, and you can help

From establishing a carbon tax to creating new protected areas, countries across Amazonia are working tirelessly to ensure this tropical forest is conserved. Want to do your part? Here are five ways you can help fight climate change. Tweet this fact »

 

Our Solutions

Mangrove tree in Indonesia at sunset.
© Mathias Japri

The next five years are critically important for Amazonia.

To protect the Amazon, Conservation International is helping establish new protected areas that will conserve forests, benefiting the well-being and livelihoods of local communities and indigenous peoples. By protecting these areas, communities will be able to conserve biodiversity, while generating income from ecotourism and carbon markets.

 

References

  1. Maretti, C.C., Riveros S.,J.C., Hofstede, R., Oliveira, D., Charity, S., Granizo, T., Alvarez, C., Valdujo, P. & C. Thompson. 2014. State of the Amazon: Ecological Representation in Protected Areas and Indigenous Territories. Brasília and Quito: WWF Living Amazon (Global) Initiative. 82pp. http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/final_report_11_11_14.pdf
  2. Bass MS, Finer M, Jenkins CN, Kreft H, Cisneros-Heredia DF, McCracken SF, et al. (2010) Global Conservation Significance of Ecuador's Yasuní National Park. PLoS ONE 5(1): e8767. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008767
  3. Harris, N.L., Gibbs, D.A., Baccini, A. et al. Global maps of twenty-first century forest carbon fluxes. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 234–240 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-00976-6
  4. Harris, N., Gibbs, D. (2021, January 21). Forests Absorb Twice As Much Carbon As They Emit Each Year. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/insights/forests-absorb-twice-much-carbon-they-emit-each-year
  5. Forest governance by indigenous and tribal peoples. An opportunity for climate action in Latin America and the Caribbean. (2021). FAO. https://doi.org/10.4060/cb2953en
  1. Nobre, C. A., Sampaio, G., Borma, L. S., Castilla-Rubio, J. C., Silva, J. S., & Cardoso, M. (2016). Land-use and climate change risks in the Amazon and the need of a novel sustainable development paradigm. In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Vol. 113, Issue 39, pp. 10759–10768). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1605516113
  2. Butler, R.A. (2022, February 25). 10 Facts about the Amazon Rainforest in 2022. Mongabay. https://rainforests.mongabay.com/amazon/amazon-rainforest-facts.html
  3. Lovejoy, T. E., & Nobre, C. (2018). Amazon Tipping Point. In Science Advances (Vol. 4, Issue 2). American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aat2340
  4. Griscom, B. W., Adams, J., Ellis, P. W., Houghton, R. A., Lomax, G., Miteva, D. A., Schlesinger, W. H., Shoch, D., Siikamäki, J. V., Smith, P., Woodbury, P., Zganjar, C., Blackman, A., Campari, J., Conant, R. T., Delgado, C., Elias, P., Gopalakrishna, T., Hamsik, M. R., … Fargione, J. (2017). Natural climate solutions. In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Vol. 114, Issue 44, pp. 11645–11650). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1710465114