Indigenous Proposal Could See 80 Percent Of The Amazon Classified As Protected Land

Halting deforestation would mean great things for both the rainforest and the planet's climate security. Image credit: Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock.com

Earth’s lungs could be about to get some serious TLC as a vote put forward by the Amazon's Indigenous Peoples is calling for 80 percent of the rainforest to be granted permanent protected status. Submitted to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) under emergency provision at the IUCN World Conservation Congress held in Marseille, France this week, the ambitious proposal awaits a vote that’s reported to be announced on Sunday.

If approved, the move will halt deforestation in the majority of the rainforest, with a goal to maintain enough of its natural ecological processes so as to avoid a tipping point that could destabilize the global climate as well as decimating the rainforest.

“We, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin, through our ancestral knowledge and traditions, have protected the Amazon for millennia,” says the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) in their proposal on the Amazonia80x2025 website.

The rainforest is home to species found nowhere else on Earth. Image credit: Leandromery/Shutterstock.com

“Today, we unite in calling for a global agreement for the permanent protection of 80 percent of the Amazon by 2025 as an urgent measure to avert an imminent tipping point and the planetary crisis, and to reach a transformative change. It is time for the international community (governments, civil society, businesses, etc.) to join us in our effort to protect the planet.”

The Amazon is celebrated across the world for its biodiversity, and for doing the world a real solid acting as a carbon sink and churning out the oxygen that we so love to breathe. As well as providing pivotal environmental processes, it’s home to 511 Indigenous nations, including 66 groups who live in voluntary isolation and remain out of contact with the wider global community.

In recognition of this, the IUCN invited Indigenous Peoples' Organizations (IPOs) to vote in 2020, ahead of when the Marseille Congress was originally scheduled to go ahead before being delayed due to COVID. This marked the first time these groups have been welcomed to vote alongside governments and NGOs in the governing body’s 70-year history.

Deforestation results in the loss of habitat for countless species, as well as reducing the forests' ability to convert carbon dioxide. Image credit: Nature Man J / Shutterstock.com

“The fact that Indigenous Peoples are now part of IUCN is a breakthrough, and the Marseille Congress will be an important step to show that IUCN is moving forward, because we are already included as stakeholders governing forests,” said Julio Cusurichi Palacios, President of the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and Tributaries (FENAMAD) in Peru, in an interview about the change.

In their proposal, Amazonia80x2025 stresses the importance of preserving the Amazon if we are to avoid crossing a tipping point that could determine the fate of the planet over the next millennia. The threshold, they say, sits at a 20 to 25 percent turning point for deforestation and forest degradation, beyond which we risk losing the entire ecosystem to a savannah-like landscape. The ramifications of such a transformation would hit globally as well as locally, as a massive spike in carbon dioxide emissions would result in rapid change to the global climate with catastrophic consequences for the planet’s stability.

 
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