The Amazon rainforest is in a crisis. It is under threat from logging companies, agriculture, and the farming industry, and has been drastically reduced in size, although the Amazon Basin still covers some 2.6 million square miles, across eight countries; Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and Guiana. The biodiversity in the Amazon is immense, and is thought to contain 1 in 10 of all known species on Earth, as well as housing some undiscovered species deep within the realms of the untouched lands.
Aside from protecting the habitats of the rich abundance of life in the Amazon, the trees; the rainforest itself, is a huge part of the ecological stability of the planet. The Amazon is known as “The Lungs of the Planet,” a title given due to the oxygen it gives out, around 20% of that in the atmosphere. The rate at which we are losing this magnificent, and life-giving rainforest is, quite frankly frightening. One hundred years ago the Amazon covered 14 percent of the Earth’s surface and this has been reduced to 6 percent as industry and development rampages on.
As a result there are many conservation projects going on across the Amazon, as the fight for its protection continues. Often this is left to charity and organizations working with paying volunteers to have a direct impact on the communities, and to protect rainforest. Governments are rarely at the forefront of conservation movements, and are too swayed by the money of the industries which are responsible for its destruction. Very often it is left to the activists and conservationists to pressurize the forces that be, and to make the changes themselves.
Project Peru, Amazon Conservation Association
The Amazon Conservation Association concentrate their efforts from the edge of Manu National Park, in Peru. Manu is a UNESCO heritage site, and is well protected because of its biodiversity. Over 1000 species of bird, and many rare mammal reside here, and volunteer programs allow people to work with the animals, tracking and researching them for conservation.
The Amazon Conservation Association has several biological stations and reserves around Manu National Park. The Los Amigos, Cloud Forest, and Villa Carmen stations help to provide a base for research, and to protect the rivers, forests, animals, and indigenous people of the area, as well as to promote conservation and sustainable agriculture. Their Brazil Nut program protects 10 million acres of Peruvian Rainforest, and helps to make sure the local people receive a fair price for the produce.
Acre Amazonian Rainforest Conservation
Peru is not the only country that receives protection; the Acre Amazonian Rainforest Conservation project focuses on the Brazilian rainforest, located specifically on the Purus River, one of the Amazon’s many estuaries. This particular project aims to protect 35,000 hectares of rainforest which faces threat from deforestation and infrastructure development. It risks falling victim to the usual slash and burn; where developers rip down trees and burn the undergrowth. The project takes a practical approach to a conflict between conservation and a developing world. It suggest cattle rotation, diversified crops, organic pigs and fish as a way of providing sustainable income for the community, whilst conserving the biodiversity of the area.
Amazon Conservation Team
The Amazon Conservation Team work directly with indigenous people who inhabit the Amazon. Together they take care of issues concerning biodiversity, and sustainable use of resources, and try to preserve the land and culture of the indigenous people in the process. The team works mostly in Suriname and Columbia.
The WWF have been on the front line of the battle for the conservation of the Amazon for over 40 years now. They work on all areas of the Amazon, trying to solve the ever present problem of development with the least damage possible. They have successfully had an impact on some unsustainable logging companies, making the most environmentally friendly roads possible, finding the least damaging location for hydro-electric dams, and pressurizing the cattle industry into developing better policy.
They are at the forefront of the Amazon Protected Areas program, which sees a network of National Parks over 150 million acres large, which they help to manage and support. There commitment to the Amazon is endless, protecting all sorts of species and habitat, and forming much needed links between governments, businesses, and conservation.
Although help is at hand, and many seek to protect the Amazon, there are many forces at work that destroy it in the name of profit. Governments need to impose strict regulations, and the Amazon itself become a priority, over the exploitation of the resources it contains. You can help out by spreading awareness, donating to charity or to a project directly, or by helping out by volunteering.