Amazonia Under Threat

The expansive Amazonia rainforest is perhaps the most iconic and well-known of the world’s wildlands. It is a lush tropical landscape that is not just one rainforest, but in fact, home to half of the world’s tropical forests, in addition to the largest river system on Earth. Millions of wildlife species—many of which haven’t even been discovered or described—live in Amazonia, making it an important region of biological discovery.

Extending across all or part of eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador,  Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela, and the French overseas department of French Guiana) Amazonia is one of the world’s five designated High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas. A number of species, some of them Critically Endangered, live here and nowhere else in the world, including the:

  • White Uakari Monkey

  • White-browed Spider Monkey

  • Amazon River Dolphin

  • Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock 

  • Rio Branco Antbird 

  • Yellow-spotted River Turtle

  • Sky Blue Poison Dart Frog 

  • Pebas Harlequin Toad

  • Giant Monkey Frog 

  • Pirarucu fish

  • Arapaima

This irreplaceable place is also critically important to the estimated 20 million Indigenous peoples from more than 350 Indigneous groups, several of whom still live in voluntary isolation from the outside world. These Indigenous peoples depend on natural ecosystems and resources for their livelihoods and culture, and have traditionally lived in harmony with their natural environments for generations. 

The benefits of Amazonia for the rest of the planet are hard to overstate. Amazonia stores up to 140 billion tons of carbon, effectively playing its role in tempering the climate crisis—if we let it. It plays a critical role in our water cycles, weather patterns and regulating our climate. It is also home to thousands of plant species, many that have been studied for their potential medicinal benefits. 

Kayapó Children jumping into the waterfalls of the Rio Pequeno, Xingú region

For these reasons, Re:wild and our partners work tirelessly to protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of Amazonia, which has come under greater threat in the last few years than ever before in its history. Illegal logging, dams, burning, mining, agriculture (including cattle ranching and soybean farming to feed the cattle) are running rampant in every Amazon country, in many places with impunity. Even as Indigenous peoples and their allies protect their land, cultures and lives against illegal encroachment, federal governments are considering opening those lands to legal extractive industry. And forest fires are burning hotter and faster, in part the result of the drier microclimate that comes with deforestation.  

The Re:wild Solution

Re:wild supports more than 35 partners in Amazonia on the front lines protecting this special place. We have channeled resources to dozens of projects throughout Amazonia in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Suriname. Our work is helping improve conservation of more than 99.8 million acres of protected areas and Indigenous Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) and contributing support to land titling efforts for 120 Indigenous communities over 5.9 million acres. 

In addition to supporting fire response and prevention efforts, and forest restoration projects to restore areas that have been damaged or destroyed, we are also a founding partner of the Amazon Emergency Fund, which provides essential support to the Indigenous peoples across Amazonia to deal with the ongoing COVID emergency. 

At the policy level, we are also supporting the call by Indigenous peoples of Amazonia to put a moratorium on extractive activities and launch unprecedented legal and political battles to guard their rights and territories. This work includes direct support to Indigenous peoples and organizations.

Fires in the Bolivian Amazon in 2019. (Photos by @oxygenseven)

We also recognize that one of the largest opportunities for rewilding in many countries of Amazonia is to move quickly away from a development model that is based on animal agriculture. We are therefore working on multiple fronts to replace cattle with forests and forest-based livelihoods across Amazonia.

Wild Facts

  • More than 1,000 species of amphibians and 2.5 million species of insects live in the Amazon Basin.

  • Amazonia is roughly the same size as Australia.

  • Cattle ranching is responsible for more than 80 percent of habitat destruction in the Amazon.

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There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the interrelated crises of wildlife extinctions, climate change and pandemics. Re:wild works with local and Indigenous communities, conservation partners, governments and others to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Our Amazonia conservation approaches include any combination of the following solutions:

protected area management

We work to improve management of protected and conserved areas to ensure a safe and equitable future for biodiversity and local communities.

Ecosystem Restoration

Supporting extensive native habitat restoration, such as reforestation, that assists in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, but that can rebound and rewild with a little help.

Wildlife crime prevention

Developing community-led and owned prevention strategies that take into account the societal and cultural drivers of wildlife crime, and implementing systems and technology to stop poachers before a crime is even committed.

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Partnering with Indigenous Peoples

Incorporating Indigenous knowledge, practices and values to support Indigenous peoples in protecting and managing their lands and natural resources.

Advocating for Earth

Building a team of engaged global citizens by inspiring changes in daily habits and promoting individual and collective actions that drive real and lasting change. We harness our platforms and reach to generate international attention around imminent threats to wildlife and wildlands and the communities who rely on them, usually from extractive industries, to positively influence decision-makers and other stakeholders.

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