Conservation Initiatives in the Amazon Basin

Compared to many other tropical forest areas of the world such as Southeast Asia, India, West Africa, and Central America, the majority of the Amazon forest is still intact. However, economic growth of Brazil combined with infrastructure development and forest conversion for agricultural commodities are continuing threats to Amazon forest. Unsustainable logging practices risks forest health, and climate change and deforestation could combine to create the “Amazon dieback”, where trees would die due to warmer temperatures and water stress, further damaging the health of the Amazon basin.

Conservation initiatives in the Amazon basin are numerous. Protected areas have traditionally formed the backbone of conservation strategies in the region. More recently, indigenous reserves and community forests have been recognized for their conservation value. At the international level, REDD+, payments for ecosystem services, and other forms of conservation finance hope to provide financing for forest conservation as a means to reduce carbon emissions, promote forest governance, local livelihoods, and conserve biodiversity. Coupled with REDD+ are national and local initiatives to improve land tenure and ensure transparent land registries. In logging, forest certification and legality verification and reduced impact logging are tools to encourage sustainable forestry operations. Also in forested areas, non-timber products and agroforestry systems can be viable economic options to sustainably manage forest landscapes. Forest restoration is practiced in previously deforested regions such as the Atlantic forest. Finally, applied research of biodiversity and forest biomass inventory is a crucial foundation in which to build conservation policies and incentives.