MAAP #188: Mennonite Colonies Continue Major Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon

In 2017, Mennonite colonies began appearing in various regions of the Peruvian Amazon. Mennonites are a global religious group starting around the 1600s and often rely on agriculture as an industrialized activity.

Based on a number of reports, Mennonites have now become one of the major drivers of deforestation across the Peruvian and Bolivian Amazon. There is a significant amount of evidence showing that this mass-scale deforestation is illegal, and is being investigated by the Peruvian government.

Over 7,000 hectares (17,376 acres) have already been deforested by 5 Mennonite colonies since 2017, and an additional 1,600 burned. In total, more than ⅓ of this destruction has occurred from January 2022 to August 2023.

MAAP is currently using the information from these reports to identify specific colonies and gain more insight on the exact scale of negative forest impacts. 

Read the full report here>



Amazonian Nations Attend Summit to Coordinate Response Against Deforestation

Earlier this month, representatives from eight South American countries came together for the first time in 14 years for the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) summit. These renewed meetings hosted by the previously dormant organization show the rebirth of a movement to stop deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest on a multinational scale. Brazilian President Lula Da Silva highlighted that deforestation in Brazil has already decreased by an astounding 66% in one year, and hopes to continue efforts in protecting the continent’s vast, diverse forests that not only house incredibly diverse species, but local and indigenous communities that depend on its natural resources.

Regional leaders of Amazonian countries convened in Belém, Brazil for this special session, and although the meeting of powers did not result in any hard deadlines or funding strategies, the summit allowed for the drafting of the Belém Declaration, containing 113 points of consensus on how to strengthen ACTO in the future while outlining key objectives of the organization. To the delight of many, one major focus of the Declaration was the protection of indigenous rights and the need to amplify indigenous voices in regional governance.  The agreement calls for an Amazon-wide institution to facilitate communication between indigenous communities and national governments as well as investment in education programs in the Amazon centered around indigenous knowledge and empowerment. In line with other international agreements such as the Escazú Agreement and the Leticia Pact, this declaration reaffirms the importance of protecting the rights of indigenous communities. 

Many environmental groups hope the Belém talks are laying the groundwork for future cooperation and regional solidarity in international forums. Another summit occurring simultaneously, United for Our Forests, saw the 8 Amazonian nations join with other rainforest countries in Southeast Asia and Central Africa, to advocate for developing nations to provide $100 billion in climate financing immediately, and $200 billion by 2030. Additionally, A united front of Amazonian nations at COP 28 may be more likely to succeed in securing international funding to halt deforestation. Between the United for Our Forests request, and lack of deadlines in the Belém Declaration, Amazonian nations seem to be signaling that they are willing to implement change, but need more financial resources to begin substantial, multilateral projects. 

Despite progress being made, some observers are calling for more concrete measures to be taken. The Brazilian Indigenous People Articulation (APIB) called the result of the summit ‘frustrating,’ and demanded that politicians back up rhetoric with demarcation of indigenous lands. Still, Belém represents a vital first step in expanding international conservation efforts across the Amazon. With the groundwork laid for greater cooperation, we can hope for greater regional alignment and progress in future international negotiations.


Amazon Conservation Signs the Vancouver Statement on Nature Crime

Amazon Conservation is proud to join the Nature Crime Alliance and several leading conservation NGOs in the Vancouver Statement on Nature Crime, as a sign of our commitment to combatting environmental crimes.

This statement reads as follows:

“Today, we are joining together to form the Nature Crime Alliance – a new, multi-sector approach to fighting criminal forms of logging, mining, wildlife trade, land conversion, crimes associated with fishing, and the illegal activities with which they converge. 

Nature crime constitutes one of the largest illicit economies in the world, inflicting devastation and destruction upon people and the planet. We recognize that these crimes cannot be eradicated without multi-sector cooperation and that there is a pressing need for greater coordination and collaboration among the diverse actors fighting nature crime. A new approach is needed.  

We have formed the Alliance in recognition of this need, with members including representatives from governments, law enforcement, international organizations, civil society organizations, front-line defenders including Indigenous Peoples and local communities, donors, and the private sector.  

We will work together, through the Alliance, to raise political will, mobilize financial commitment, and strengthen operational capacity to fight nature crime. Through a range of initiatives – from solutions-focused working groups convening representatives across different sectors to structured communications channels that enable open dialogue and the sharing of best practices – the Alliance is building a new, international, collaborative response to nature crime.  

This is the first time that such a multi-sector approach to this global challenge has been developed on this scale, with the Alliance marking a key moment in the fight against nature crime. We encourage governments and organizations that share our determination to end environmental injustice and protect people and the planet to join us in the Nature Crime Alliance.”

To read more about the Nature Crime Alliance, click here.

II Encuentro: An Exchange of Experiences

Last month, ACA’s second Norad-sponsored workshop “II Encuentro” was held in Tena, Ecuador to share experiences and evaluate our satellite monitoring program MAAP across the Amazon basin. This workshop brought together organizations and indigenous groups from Peru and Ecuador such as Fundación EcoCiencia, FENEMAD (Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and Tributaries), and local representatives from the indigenous Shuar-Arutam and Waorani communities to discuss and improve the use of MAAP, as well as how to increase local capacities and engaging governments to apply the law.

In Ecuador, satellite monitoring is handled by Fundación EcoCiencia, which seeks to reduce deforestation and forest crime by creating a network that supports regional monitoring efforts throughout the Amazon.​ Fundación EcoCiencia has a direct relationship with the community monitors of the Shuar Arutam People and the Waorani Territory, who carry out community monitoring activities through platforms that receive information from provided technologies. Subsequently, technical reports are produced and made available to the proper authorities within the indigenous communities. 

Similarly in Peru, oversight offices across the Amazonian region have significant legal support and enact protocols for alerts through the National Forestry and Wildlife Service (SERFOR), which recognizes them as a technical unit established within the indigenous communities and organizations to provide technical advice in the forestry and environmental field. These precautions are being taken to build a national community monitoring and surveillance system, with the support and recognition of environmental authorities to work alongside monitoring these efforts. As many threats and pressures on Amazon persist, strengthening the legal framework and visualizing strategies for satellite monitoring in indigenous communities is critical.​

​As the evaluation of methodologies for analyzing satellite images, data, map monitoring, systems implementation, and use of technological tools carried on, communication processes were also discussed to facilitate decision-making and to consolidate more timely, accessible, and precise work to combat these threats. Likewise, promoting the development of joint and technological work, based on each experience, allows us to reinforce and improve these processes.

For these five days, those who took part in the analysis of MAAP learned from the experiences that each partner holds in their own countries, through the study of satellite images on deforestation, and other pressures on Amazon forests.


Make-A-Will Month: When There’s a Will …

There’s definitely a way. Your will is your way to protect your loved ones, ensure your wishes are honored, and even make a lasting impact in the Amazon through your legacy. 

August is Make-A-Will month and as a supporter of Amazon Conservation, you’ve seen firsthand how we can work together to support the conservation of the world’s most diverse ecosystem. Now, you have the chance to join 40 other Amazon Conservation supporters in leaving behind a legacy to protect the precious biodiversity of the Amazon, empower local communities, and continue our conservation efforts to inspire future generations of conservationists.

Thanks to help from our partner FreeWill, you can get access to the best estate planning tool for free! By creating your will this month, you’ll make a way to protect your loved ones and ensure a thriving future for the Amazon. In just 20 minutes, you can join thousands who are making a will this month to create your own will by:

  • Dictating your vision for the future, and for the future of your assets
  • Showing your loved ones just how much you care about them
  • Creating a sustainable, lasting impact on Amazon Conservation’s mission to unite science, innovation, and people to protect the greatest wild forest on Earth.

Make a will >

As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” FreeWill’s tool guides you through each step of writing your will, you’ll have the option to make a planned gift of any amount to Amazon Conservation. By committing just 5-10% of their estate to our mission, many donors choose to build an incredibly impactful legacy with Amazon Conservation while ensuring their loved ones are also taken care of. By using this service, you’ll get lifetime access to make updates and changes to your plan at no cost.

This August, join the growing number of supporters who have planted a seed for a future where the Amazon continues to thrive as a source of life, inspiration, and natural wonder! 

Your dedication continues to be a beacon of hope for the Amazon. Together, we can ensure this vibrant source of life and natural wonder continues to flourish for future generations.