While it’s true that some natural regions around the world are getting a break from human activity during COVID, the opposite is true for the Amazon. Environmental groups on the ground (including ARC) are seeing a surge in deforestation activities since the onset of COVID 19.
While government agencies are distracted by the health crisis, illegal loggers, miners and animal traffickers are taking advantage of the reduced forest protection to invade lands in unprecedented numbers. The high price of gold resulting from the global economic crisis is also driving a boom in illegal extraction in the area, leaving vital ecosystems decimated; polluted for decades to come.
In these challenging times it’s more important than ever that we stand together to protect and defend what’s left of the Amazon Rainforest. This is one of the most meaningful investments we can make – for our future generations, and for the good of our planet.
For 2021, we are diversifying with projects in separate ecoysystems in the Amazon basin, allowing us to protect a wider biodiversity of plants and animals, and especially endangered species and the wildernesses they call home. Each project is in partnership with a trusted and established local Peruvian conservation organization to ensure our success in protecting these important areas.
Protecting the Lowlands
of the Amazon
For this project, ARC is partnering with the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA), a Peruvian non-profit organization, cofounded by Canadian Adrian Forsyth, a Harvard PhD in tropical ecology, to protect The Los Amigos Conservation Concession (LACC). LACC is 146,000 hectares (360,000 acres) of pristine old-growth rainforest that is home to an abundance of wildlife, including at least 12 globally threatened species, including giant otters, harpy eagles, spider monkeys and jaguars, with over 550 birds on the bird list.
This parcel of land contains 11 species of primates (by way of comparison, all of Costa Rica holds only four.) The land parcel is also adjacent to the Reserve for Indigenous People in Voluntary Isolation. So, it acts as a very important buffer zone to ensure their freedom and right to live their traditional lives.
ARC Wild Protectors are working alongside ACCA’s Promotores de Conservación to patrol and protect this vital wilderness from the threats of illegal logging, gold mining, road development and poachers. Drone and high-resolution satellite monitoring assist the forest guards by alerting them to occurrence of illegal activities within the concession. The forest guards also collect biological monitoring data and provide education workshops for student in the region.
Protecting the Cloud Forests
of The Amazon
In line with ARC’s holistic approach to biodiversity conservation we want to make the Amazonian cloud forests a priority. Due to the on-going threat of clear-cutting, cloud forests are already extremely rare, currently making up just 2.5 per cent of our planet’s tropical forests. Cloud forests are home to thousands of species of plants, unique species of amphibians, reptiles, and birds, and 28 threatened animal species, including the spectacled bear, bush dog, giant armadillo, and the critically endangered harlequin frog.
Sadly, the cloud forest habitats in the Amazon rainforest are rapidly being degraded. Habitat loss due to deforestation, forest conversion to monoculture plantations, and livestock ventures are destroying the biodiversity, and causing land degradation and fragmentation that’s harmful to the species that live there.
Our projects for this region will focus on creating conservation corridors in the buffer zones between protected areas to ensure connectivity, as many wildlife species rely on such areas to survive. Land in these buffer zones is populated with communities who make their living from activities that damage the ecosystem. Buying their lands will only cause them to move to a new area to deforest. It makes more sense for those living in the buffer zones to stay there, and that opportunities be found for them to become guardians of the forest and to generate income sustainably.
NEWS ON OUR CLOUD FOREST PROJECT COMING SOON!
In the Amazon there are over 40,000 different kinds of plant species and we only know the medicinal properties of 400 of these plants. That is why many scientists believe the cure to many diseases is held in the Amazon.
Protecting the Highlands/Headwaters
of The Amazon
The unique combination of mountains, highlands, forests, wetlands and peat bogs means the headwaters of the Upper Amazon has a high level of endemic species, many of which exist nowhere else. Most notable is the endangered Marvellous Spatuletail Hummingbird. Bird watchers come from around the world to catch a glimpse of this fantastical hummingbird, which was thought to be extinct and was only rediscovered in recent years.
While peat only covers three per cent of the world’s surface, peat bogs store about a third of all global soil carbon. This means their preservation is vital in the fight against climate change. Even though peat lands are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth, awareness of their importance is poor. As such, they’re under severe threat worldwide. In fact, the decline of the Bornean Orang-utan population is largely attributed to the loss of its peat bog habitat.
The peat bogs and waterfalls in this region provide a constant stream of pure water that the valley communities rely on. The water from these falls feeds the rivers that eventually form the mighty Amazon River!
The region is also home to many other endangered species such as the Andean Night Monkey, the Yellow-Tailed Woolly Monkey and the Spectacled (Paddington) Bear. For this project we’re looking at acquiring land for conservation and building a research station; the highland Jalca ecosystem is extremely understudied, and many species have yet to be discovered.
NEWS ON OUR HIGHLANDS PROJECT COMING SOON!
25% of modern medicines come from tropical rainforest plants. The leaves, bark and sap from trees in the Amazon are used to make medicines that we use for cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, just to name a few.
©2021, Amazon Rainforest Conservancy