Quarter of the Amazon at point of no return, says new report; still possible to save remainder

Some 66% of the Amazon is subject to some type of constant or permanent pressure

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 06 September 2022
The livestock industry is the major driver of deforestation in the Amazon. Here, a family of capybara, the largest rodent in the world are seen with a herd of white cattle in the Pantanal, south of the Amazon rainforest. Photo: iStock__

Indigenous leaders of the Amazon as well as researchers from nine countries that share it, released the findings of a new report September 5, 2022. It noted that 26 per cent of the world’s largest rainforest was already at a ‘point of no return’ due to high rates of deforestation and degradation.

However, it added that the remaining 74 per cent (629 million hectares in priority areas) of the Amazon was still standing and required immediate protection, according to a statement.

The report, titled A Race Against Time for the Amazon: Where and How to Protect 80% by 2025, was presented at the 5th Summit of Amazon Indigenous Peoples. The event was organised by the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin, an umbrella alliance of indigenous peoples of the Amazon.

It was released a year after the approval of Motion 129 of the Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Motion 129 seeks to avoid the point of no return in the Amazon by protecting 80 per cent of it by 2025.

The report stated that the protection of 80 per cent of the Amazon by 2025 was still feasible and that there was still time to stop the current rate of destruction.

It contemplated solutions to stop the progression towards the point of no return, including the recognition of 100 million hectares of indigenous territories, moratoriums to safeguard intact ecosystems with low degradation, an inclusive model of co-governance and a proposal for the conditional cancellation of the debts of the Amazonian countries.

The authors also warned that hundreds of indigenous peoples living in the 40 per cent of intact ecosystems (255 million hectares) in the Amazon did not have territorial management regimes that reflected the biocultural diversity of the basin.

The document was accompanied by a set of new maps based on 36 years of data sequences, which showed that 86 per cent of deforestation had taken place in areas that did not have a territorial management regime aimed at conservation.

The livestock industry is the major driver of deforestation in the Amazon. Deforestation caused by cattle ranching in the Amazon rainforest accounts for almost two per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Some 66 per cent of the Amazon is subject to some type of constant or permanent pressure: the oil industry, mining and over 800 planned and operating hydroelectric plants, among others.

The study noted that of the nine countries of the basin, 34 per cent of the Brazilian Amazon had entered a process of transformation, as had 24 per cent of the Bolivian Amazon, 16 per cent in Ecuador, 14 per cent in Colombia and 10 per cent in Peru.

Savannisation was already a reality in the southeast of the region, mainly in Brazil and Bolivia. The data showed that both countries were responsible for 90 per cent of the deforestation and degradation in the entire region and that they shared encroachment as a central cause of deforestation.

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