Amazon Rainforest Day: Progress in protecting the region’s green lung


The planet's largest tropical forest, the Amazon, faces the threats of global change on a daily basis. It is home to populations of different ethnic groups and nationalities that speak 86 different languages, a cultural heritage that must be protected. It is also the habitat of more than 5,000 animal species and between 40,000 and 80,000 plant species, whose biodiversity has been reduced by the loss of up to 13% of its original vegetation.

Among the practices that have degraded the coverage of the Amazon are deforestation, which is caused by the felling of trees; burning, displacement and colonization of new territories by local populations; legal and illegal mining, which has expanded in recent years; hydrocarbon exploitation; dams and indiscriminate fishing; and intensive agriculture.

Since it is an issue of international concern, in 2015 the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council approved a multi-million dollar project to help further protect the Amazon and boost efforts to combat climate change. Moreover, on August 8-9 this year, Brazil hosted the Amazon Summit for the first time in 14 years. In addition to reactivating the Amazon Fund, the presidents signed the Bélem Declaration, which establishes an agenda to combat deforestation and illegal activities in the Amazon and protect the biome.

The Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) has funded research focused on the Amazon, such as the MapFire project, which aims to contribute to the advancement of knowledge to reduce the impacts of fires in the Amazon biome and the risk of fires. The project also studied the economic impact of fires, the level of reduction of CO2 uptake in burned areas and allowed a more detailed detection of burned areas with the algorithm of a platform. This platform shares information in real time and issues alerts to the most critical areas. MapFire published the open access glossary (in Spanish) "Terms on the Integrated Prevention of Fires and Forest Blazes" and other educational materials.

Recently, Ecuador rejected oil exploitation in Yasuní National Park through a referendum, Brazil established the goal of eliminating deforestation in the Amazon by 2030 and a plan to achieve it, and Colombia has proposed the collaborative establishment of an International Environmental Justice Tribunal and reached agreements with communities to reduce deforestation.

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