Board Member Q&A: Jim’s Journey to Amazon Conservation

In addition to our incredibly dedicated staff members, our Board of Directors is made up of passionate science, business, and civic leaders who provide their expertise and financial support to help guide our mission in the most strategic direction. With their commitment to protecting the Amazon Rainforest, we can help take action on the ground for both people and wildlife.

For Board Chair Jim Brumm, who joined Amazon Conservation’s Board of Directors in 2016, the great outdoors has always been a place of solace, especially for bird watching. He has traveled near and far to marvel at the vast array of bird species across the globe and was lucky enough to find the opportunity to become a Board Member through this passion. Jim is also deeply interested in and committed to conservation, Indigenous peoples, and community rights and development, and has served and continues to serve on a number of boards involved in bird conservation, Indigenous peoples’ rights, animal welfare, and conservation science.

Read on to learn about Jim’s journey to taking an active role in protecting the Amazon rainforest!


Can you tell us a little about you?

I grew up in Fresno in Central California and lived there through college. I then went east to go to law school and after becoming a lawyer I worked in law firms in New York and Tokyo. In between New York and Tokyo, I traveled in a camping van through Europe, North Africa, and the Soviet Union for nine months and not only saw big cities and small towns but camped on beaches in southern Morocco, in the Sahara desert beyond the Atlas Mountains and north of the Arctic Circle. This journey gave me an appreciation of how we are all interconnected and how nature is one. I’ve lived in Japan for a total of five years and in Australia for one year and have traveled extensively for work and for environmental non-profit efforts I have had many opportunities to see how the world is changing and how the environment is being impacted. I spent most of my work career at a major Japanese trading company, Mitsubishi Corporation, and was their executive vice president and general counsel in the US. I was also on the board of directors in Japan. I have over the years and currently serve on a number of NGO boards, primarily bird and environmental conservation, and Indigenous people’s rights. I love being in the outdoors and exploring new places. I am not very good but I am a very enthusiastic birder and have birded on every continent except Antarctica.

What got you interested in environmental conservation?

When I was growing up in Central California, I often went camping and spent time in the Sierras and enjoyed nature. However, beyond a general interest in nature and in environmental conservation, I was not actively engaged until the company where I worked, Mitsubishi Corporation, became the target of an environmental campaign. I was put in charge of responding to the campaign. I realized I needed to understand the underlying issues involved and so I began to research the issues and the organizations involved in protecting the environment. Through that engagement in environmental issues, I came to recognize the threats to the environment and how important it was to protect the environment. Once I understood that, I knew I had to become involved in protecting the environment.

How did you initially learn about Amazon Conservation?

The first time I encountered Amazon Conservation was when co-founder Adrian Forsyth speaking at an American Bird Conservancy (ABC) event. Amazon Conservation sometimes used space from ABC so I sometimes met Adrian after that. Jeff Woodman, who was on the ABC board with me and on Amazon Conservation’s board of directors at the time, invited me and my wife Yuko to travel to Manu to see the work Amazon Conservation was doing. We stayed at the Conservación Amazónica-ACCA lodges at Wayqecha and Villa Carmen (now called Manu Biolodge), visited local villages and birded down the Manu road. I saw the beauty of Manu but also was made aware of the threats to its preservation. I also saw first-hand what Amazon Conservation and its sister organization Conservación Amazónica-ACCA were doing to protect the Amazon and knew I wanted to be involved.

As a Board Member, what are you most impressed/proud of from Amazon Conservation?

I am continually impressed with and awed by the enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of the staff and the board members of Amazon Conservation and its two sister organizations in Peru and Bolivia. These are people who are deeply committed to saving the Amazon and who have made sacrifices for the sake of the environment and for all of us. The staff are very talented and have the skills and expertise needed to accomplish what they are committed doing and are great collaborators with each other and with the people who live in the Amazon and the governments, bilateral and multilateral institutions and other NGOs engaged in protecting the Amazon. They are effectively carrying out and building on the vision and accomplishments of Amazon Conservation’s co-founders, Adrian Forsyth and Enrique Ortiz.

What have you learned from being a Board Member?

I have come to have a much deeper understanding of the importance of the Amazon, its threats and how best to preserve it and the livelihoods of the people who live there. I have been able to see firsthand how a shared vision among the staff and board of Amazon Conservation and the staff and board of Amazon Conservation’s two sister organizations (Conservación Amazónica-ACCA in Peru and Conservación Amazónica-ACEAA in Bolivia) executed by dedicated staff can effectively work on the ground to protect the Amazon. I have also experienced the joy of working with board members engaged in a common mission and learning from them in so many ways.

Why do you think it is important to protect the Amazon rainforest?

As the world’s largest rainforest, failure to protect it will have disastrous consequences for the world’s climate. If we don’t protect it, not only will the people who live in the Amazon and who are dependent on it remaining sustainable be harmed, but also the world at large will suffer serious consequences. Not only does the Amazon encompass the single largest remaining tropical rainforest in the world, it also houses at least 10% of the world’s known biodiversity, including endemic and endangered flora and fauna, and its river accounts for 15-16% of the world’s total river discharge into the oceans. The loss of this biodiversity would have catastrophic consequences beyond our imagination.

What would you say to other environmentally-conscious people who want to make a difference in the Amazon and help fight climate change?

Contribute financially to the organizations engaged in protecting the Amazon, get involved as volunteers and as board members of those organizations. Become politically active in supporting legislation and government funding for the Amazon. Visit the Amazon and see for yourself the beauty of the Amazon and deepen your understanding of the threats and challenges to the Amazon and appreciate how the efforts of organizations like Amazon Conservation are making a difference.

Do you have anything else to add that you’d like people to know?

I find working with the people at Amazon Conservation, their sister organizations, and their other partners one of the most rewarding endeavors of my life.


MAAP #196: Measuring Socio-Environmental Impacts with the First Ever Illegal Gold Mining Impact Calculator

Our newest MAAP report, MAAP #196, shows the results of the socio-environmental impacts caused by illegal mining using a unique tool, the “Illegal Gold Mining Impact Calculator” developed by Conservation Strategy Fund – CSF.

Illegal gold mining has generated massive deforestation in the southern Peruvian Amazon (MAAP #208), and has contaminated the area’s major rivers, tributaries, and secondary water bodies with toxic substances such as mercury and arsenic. Thus, illegal mining generates large economic losses due to the direct impact on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and other more sustainable economic activities.

Quantifying these impacts in monetary terms has been a challenge for national authorities lacking adequate instruments for establishing economic values of illegal mining’s negative impact on the Amazon. In this context, the organization Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) recently presented the Mining Impacts Calculator. This novel digital economic valuation tool allows users to calculate the social and environmental cost of illegal gold mining in the Amazon.

These results show an economic loss of 593 million dollars for the socio-environmental impacts generated by deforestation, sedimentation, and contamination in just the short period between January 2022 and August 2023.

Read the full report here.



Happy International Day for Biological Diversity!

Today, we’re celebrating the incredible diversity of life on our planet by shining a spotlight on the Amazon – the world’s most biodiverse region!

Short for “biological diversity,” biodiversity is a term that refers to the diverse array of life forms within an ecosystem. The Amazon is home to a wide variety of species (for example, it’s home to 7,500 species of butterflies!), each playing an important and unique role for the ecosystem to thrive. Biodiversity and the Amazon are strongly linked, because it’s considered by many scientists to be the most biodiverse place on the planet, meaning that it contains more species of plants and animals than any other terrestrial ecosystem.


Ever wonder what some of these special roles are? We asked our staff members about their favorite species and their importance to the Amazon to keep our forests thriving for generations to come.



Amazon Conservation Joins The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

As of late April, Amazon Conservation has officially become a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an institution that unites governments and civil society to advance sustainable development for a world that deeply values nature. 

With over 1,400 member organizations and and a network of over 16,000 scientists, the IUCN drives conservation among organizations across multi-national levels to bring the necessary, knowledge, tools, and resources to progress toward safeguarding the natural world. Since its creation in 1948, it has become the world’s most prevalent environmental network and continues to build on human and economic development to address key conservation areas such as species survival, environmental law, protected areas, social and economic policy, ecosystem management, and education and communication. Each organization in the ICUN plays a unique role in a democratic process, where they can contribute to discussions, agendas, and resolutions that develop the foundation for global conservation. This system has helped to establish significant environmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

To expand our reach across the Amazon and globally, Amazon Conservation has formed alliances and partnerships both on the ground and internationally to strengthen conservation efforts and maximize its impacts. Starting in Peru, we began working with local government officials and organizations to address gaps in deforestation prevention to improve technological capacity for forest monitoring and help indigenous communities defend their territories. While it is urgent that we address solutions to deforestation to help protect lands, we also recognize that the Amazon has become vulnerable to other threats such as wildlife trade, land conversion, and various other illegal activities. Considering this, we co-founded the Nature Crime Alliance, a global multi-sector initiative led by the World Resources Institute (WRI) to fight environmental crimes across the globe. 

Now, as a part of the IUCN, we aim to continue expanding our allyships to raise awareness for nature-positive solutions and strengthen our efforts to help combat negative climate and environmental impacts in the Amazon.



New MAAP Report: Gold Mining in the Southern Peruvian Amazon

Thanks to support from USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation), we’ve been able to publish a series of reports on the dynamic situation of gold mining in the southern Peruvian Amazon over the past several years.

Illegal gold mining continues to raise concern in this area, eliminating thousands of hectares of primary forest in the Madre de Dios region. The Peruvian government responded to this crisis with Operation Mercury at the beginning of 2019, followed by the Restoration Plan in 2021. MAAP #208 summarizes the complex mining situation from January 2021 to March 2024 in the southern Peruvian Amazon and outlines the gradual effects of illegal mining on its forests.

We documented the total mining deforestation of 30,846 hectares (76,200 acres) during this period, equivalent to over 40,000 soccer fields. Of this total, three-quarters (74%) of mining deforestation has occurred within the Mining Corridor, a large area where the government permits small-scale mining as part of a formalization process. Thus, the vast majority of mining deforestation is not necessarily illegal, because it is in the corridor designated for this activity. The remaining one-quarter (26%) of mining deforestation corresponds to probable illegal mining occurring in prohibited areas outside the Mining Corridor.

The majority of this illegal mining deforestation is occurring in Native Communities and buffer zones of Protected Areas. Additionally, in the second half of the report, we describe (for the first time) our strategic collaboration with the regional representative organization of indigenous peoples, known as FENAMAD. This process has led to the execution of 5 major government operations between 2022 and 2024.

Read the full report here. 




World Migratory Bird Day: How Bird Migration Helps Sustain the Amazon Rainforest

Chivi Vireo  (Vireo chivi)

It’s a great day to be a birder! Each year on the second Saturday of May in North America, bird enthusiasts near and far come together to celebrate and raise awareness for the importance of migratory bird conservation. While migration for some birds is an important element of their life cycle to ensure the longevity and reproduction of their species, it also acts as a vital contributor to the ecological balance in the Amazon and other various ecosystems. 

This year, World Migratory Bird Day focuses on the importance of insects, which are a key element in the diet of many migratory birds, providing essential nutrients and energy needed to breed and travel long distances. In turn, birds play a crucial role in the natural food chain, helping to control pest and insect populations to minimize disruptions to the ecosystem. Leading up to their migration, birds enter a state called hyperphagia, which gives them the feeling of insatiable hunger that leads them to consume as much food as possible to build up energy in their systems. Their journey and destination choice are largely dependent on the availability of food sources, so protecting insect species to fuel the migration of these bird species is critical. Likewise, it’s important to maintain a balanced bird population to prevent insect overpopulation, which could lead to overwhelming the ecosystem with serious negative impacts on plants and agriculture.

The Amazon is a critical wintering ground (a location where birds migrate to spend the winter months) for numerous “neotropical migratory birds”, which are birds that fly to South America (or other tropical areas) from other regions during the winter months to take advantage of the warmer climate and abundant food resources. During their seasonal stay, not only are they helping control insect and pest populations, but they are also contributing to seed dispersal, pollination, and nutrient cycling in the forest. Our Wayqecha and Manu Biological Stations currently protect about 10,000 acres of forest home to key insect and bird species, helping to ensure longevity and keep populations stable. As of 2018, 32 species of migratory birds have been identified at our biological stations, with our Manu Biological Station holding the most among our 3 stations with 26 species identified. 

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Broad-Winged Hawk

The incredibly vast array of biodiversity within the Amazon provides critical habitat and food resources for birds from across the continent. Protecting tropical forests not only helps ensure the well-being of migratory birds but also so future generations can experience such a spectacle. Bird migration is more than just a sight to see: it is a vital part of many birds’ life cycles that help regulate various ecosystems. Our feathered friends act as seed dispersers, insect and pest controllers, pollinators, and nutrient cycling that keep forests healthy, so if you ever have the opportunity to witness such an important natural event, be sure to remember all they do for us and our planet!