Earth Month Wrap Up: Invest in Our Future to Empower the Next Generation of Conservationists

As Earth Month comes to a close in these final days of April, we want to share some of the inspiring ways that supporters like you have helped empower future generations of conservationists. Whether we’re talking with local students who have grown up surrounded by rainforest or classrooms of students continents away, we have seen how enthusiastic young people in the Amazon and around the globe are about protecting the planet and its forests. 

At Amazon Conservation, Investing in Our Future means encouraging this appreciation for the Amazon and supporting future conservationists by:

  1. Supporting local programs that help ensure today’s youth have the space and resources to learn about and feel inspired to protect their local forests. Programs like the Children’s Forest in the Bolivian community of Motacusal help safeguard spaces where communities can pass on local forest knowledge to their children and ensure that future generations have the opportunity to continue living healthy lives in the Amazon.

    Your contribution of just $25 can help safeguard 15 acres of forest to protect the home and resources of local Amazonian communities like Motacusal for future generations.

  2. Creating opportunities for local youth to learn about the importance of their local forests and species and how to keep the Amazon standing. We believe environmental education is fundamental in inspiring young people to become conservationists, like the recently inaugurated Andean Bear Interpretation Center at our Wayqecha Conservation Hub in the cloud forests near Cuzco, Peru, located in an area encompassing a uniquely biodiverse landscape that bridges the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest. The Interpretation Center is an important space for connecting local youth with the nature and science of their region and empowering them to support local conservation efforts and become stewards of their forest.

    Your contribution of just $50 sponsors one local student to take part in an environmental education program that utilize resources like the Andean Bear Interpretation Center at Wayqecha to teach them about the local ecosystem, wildlife species, and the important role of protecting local habitat and resources to conserve the larger Amazon.

  3. Providing new tools and resources for local students in the Amazon to observe and interact with their forests and native wildlife in new ways. These tools, paired with environmental education programs in local schools, help empower and inspire future generations of conservationists.

    Last December, we delivered 7 new high-quality binoculars to a school in the Municipality of Puerto Rico in the northern Bolivian Amazon and hosted a workshop with the school of 26 students between 4 and 16 years old to demonstrate how to use the binoculars to observe and record wildlife in the forests around their community. For many of these students, the experience provided new insight into the importance of preserving the forests in and around their community.

    Your contribution of just $100 can provide one set of new high-quality binoculars to local youth like those in Puerto Rico to empower them to learn about their forests and local wildlife in new ways.

  4. Ensuring field experience and opportunities for local scientists to contribute to ground-breaking research and local conservation efforts at our Conservation Hubs. In 2022, supporters like you funded research scholarships to 4 young Peruvian scientists through the Catto Shaw 2022 internship program to spend seven months with Team Ukuku working to restore Andean bear habitat and food sources at our Wayqecha Conservation Hub. These scholarship programs are central to our work because they provide local scientists with competitive field experience, space to explore their home country’s ecosystems and biodiversity, and opportunities to better understand the importance of their local forests for the larger Amazon region.

    Click to learn more about Yessenia’s work with Team Ukuku.

    Your contribution of $1000 can help provide a scholarship for one local student to conduct field work and gain valuable biology experience at one of our research stations, thus inspiring future generations of local scientists to help conserve the Amazon.

  5. Encouraging young supporters globally to get involved and help save the Amazon. Earlier this year, we partnered with Year 4 students at Avonwood Primary School in the United Kingdom to put together a fundraiser to raise £100 to raise awareness about the Amazon and our Los Amigos Conservation Hub in Peru. The 8-year-old students learned about the important species that depend on the rainforest and created wildlife portraits to fill a virtual gallery that they centered in their fundraiser to spread awareness and raise more than £170 for the Amazon, surpassing their goal by 70%!

    Thanks to these young students eager to make a difference and their family and friends for supporting them, we know the future of the Amazon and the planet depends on supporting our youngest conservationists today.

Continue reading “Earth Month Wrap Up: Invest in Our Future to Empower the Next Generation of Conservationists”

Peru Shares RAMI Technology and Training Against Illegal Mining with Brazil

Experts from Conservación Amazónica – ACCA in Peru hosted a training workshop in the use of the RAMI (Radar Mining Monitoring) tool at an event with the goal of building capacity and transferring technology to specialists in environmental monitoring at the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability (SEMAS) in the Brazilian state of Pará.

Peruvian and Brazilian monitoring teams during the workshop.

The main objective of the training workshop held this past April 12-14 was to replicate Peru’s gold mining monitoring system in Brazil’s Tapajós River basin, located in Pará, using detection with radar images. In addition, it focused on improving SEMAS staff’s capacity to use free and open-source resources to process large amounts of data using the Google Earth Engine platform.

Conservación Amazónica – ACCA’s Director of GIS and Conservation Technology Sidney Novoa highlighted the similarities between Brazil’s and Peru’s territories, such as the presence of Indigenous territories, conservation and environmental protection areas, and national parks, which at times overlap with miners’ rights and mining licenses, generating land and resource conflicts. Because of these similarities, valuable lessons learned in Peru related to the implementation of monitoring technology may also be applicable in the Tapajós region. In addition, Sidney added that the technology transfer used to fight illegal mining in Peru was made possible thanks to the support of the Institute of Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification (IMAFLORA), which works closely with authorities from Brazil’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainability (SEMAS) who have also hired a local specialist to adapt the methodology to the region’s needs.

The RAMI tool, developed through a collaboration between Peruvian experts from Conservación Amazónica – ACCA and SERVIR-Amazonia, is a new geospatial technology tool that has been successfully implemented in the Madre de Dios region of Peru to help detect illegal gold mining activities. During the recent training workshop, our monitoring specialists shared their knowledge about RAMI’s programming language, data interpretation, and data qualification with the Brazilian environmental monitoring specialists.

Sidney Novoa shares Madre de Dios’s experience with implementing RAMI.

SEMAS Secretary Mauro O’de Almeida explained that the Tapajós region was chosen for the RAMI operation because of the high levels of illegal gold mining activity. He hopes that this tool will help address the problem of illegal mining, which is a major challenge for environmental management in Pará and negatively impacts the region’s economy and natural resources.

RAMI will be a critical tool in reinforcing SEMAS’s environmental control and monitoring strategy by helping combat illegal mining, supervising licensed companies, and protecting the environment and communities that depend on these natural resources. In addition, this technology will be shared with other federal agencies in Pará to strengthen the fight against illegal mining and help ensure the sustainability of the Amazon.

RAMI is implemented by Conservación Amazónica – ACCA thanks to support of the SERVIR-Amazonia, a program developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Agency for Development International (USAID).

Celebrating the First Anniversary of the First Protected Area in Cobija in Northwestern Bolivia

This April, the Municipality of Cobija in the Department of Pando along with our sister organization in Bolivia, Conservación Amazónica – ACEAA, celebrated the first anniversary of the city’s first and only protected area. The Arroyo Bahía Conservation Area (known by the acronym ANGICAB in Spanish) protects 8,952 acres (3,623 hectares) of forests and critical water sources. The area has also been identified by the Bolivian government as a priority for biodiversity conservation.

ANGICAB was established in April 2022 thanks to support from the Andes Amazon Fund with the goal of protecting the Arroyo Bahía stream and watershed, which provide freshwater to more than 80,000 people including residents of Cobija, surrounding communities in the Department of Pando, and communities neighboring Pando in Peru to the west and in Brazil to the north and east. The conservation area also protects a range of flora and fauna, including more than 351 plant, 35 amphibian, 13 reptile, 185 bird, 32 mammal, and 30 fish species.

Since the 1980s, the Arroyo Bahía watershed has steadily lost forest cover due to a growing demand for land to raise livestock, which has progressively led to greater erosion, soil compaction, and sedimentation that clogs streams. This in turn has impacted forest regeneration, water and soil pollution, and a drop in water quality and potability for local residents. Local forest harvesters in the region have also noted a decrease in the production of Brazil nut trees in recent years in relation to these changes in the local forests and watershed.

Thanks to the establishment of ANGICAB, the local government of Cobija and Conservación Amazónica – ACEAA are optimistic that local residents will engage more in taking care of their local conservation area and protect the watershed from contamination and deforestation for their own health, the health of the ecosystem, and the health of the larger Amazon region. Conservación Amazónica – ACEAA continues to work together with the local government and local communities to complement sustainable land and water management through ANGICAB with programs that support sustainable livelihoods for local families and promote strategies that help mitigate floods, fires, pollution, and the effects of climate change.

Photos from the anniversary event in Cobija celebrating the town’s natural beauty and featuring murals by local artist Alvaro Huayllas.

Invest in Our Future this Earth Month

Spring is here and April is Earth Month! We’re celebrating the season of blooming and fresh starts by reflecting on ways we each can Invest in Our Future to Invest in Our Planet. Protecting the Amazon for future generations of animals and people who call it home is a huge task we can only achieve by working together and doing our part. Join us in Investing in Our Future to ensure a thriving Amazon for years to come. 

Here are 4 quick and easy ways you can Invest in Our Future and the Amazon this April:

1. Create your legacy for the Amazon by making your will today: Our trusted partner FreeWill is a great place to begin your estate planning process because it’s a free online solution that guides you through writing your will and making your legacy gift, all in about 20 minutes!

When you include Amazon Conservation in your estate plan, you’re investing in the future of our planet by ensuring our organization continues our fight well into the future. A legacy gift is an act of solidarity with our advocacy and education programs, which empower the youngest generations of future forest friends.

Make your will today and help us defend the Amazon for the next generation!

2. Become a Wild Keeper and help make our conservation programs more sustainable: When you donate to Amazon Conservation every month, you are providing the sustainable support we need to ensure the longevity of our programs on the ground across the rainforest. Starting your monthly donation of any amount in honor of Earth Month facilitates your giving plans and deepens your impact because recurring gifts help us plan for ongoing support of our most essential conservation efforts with long-term impacts.

Planting your seed as a Wild Keeper today means our programs that help prepare and empower youth will be able to flourish as youth conservationists, like these children in the community of Motacusal in the Bolivian Amazon and the Andean Bear Interpretation Center in the cloud forests of Peru, which serves as an important learning space for environmental education for local students and young scientists. 

Learn more about what it means to join our community of Wild Keepers here.

3. Learn the different ways to make your impact bloom: Do you know the variety of ways you can make your contribution to Amazon Conservation count? Check out our Ways to Give page and explore if your contribution might qualify for a match from your employer, explore other donation means that could mean bigger tax benefits, or consider sharing your love for the Amazon by selecting “I Want To Fundraise for This” on our Donation Page to start a Peer to Peer Fundraiser to raise funds to Invest in Our Future.

4. Get inspired! As you take in the start of spring and think about the future of the planet you want, share what inspires you. Work with your family, friends, and community to find a way that makes sense to plant your seeds. Plant a garden, go for a walk or bike ride, or share drawings or paintings of your favorite Amazon flora and fauna. Share your inspiration with us by tagging us @amazonconservation and using #InvestInTheAmazon!



Japu: A Model for Wetland Restoration in the Peruvian Highlands

The Japu indigenous community is one of 5 indigenous communities that make up the Q’ero Nation, a nationality considered to be the last Inca stronghold as well as the place where forest conservation and wetland restoration emerge as a strategy to combat the impacts of the changing climate in the Peruvian Andes.

The technical support that our Peruvian sister organization Conservación Amazónica – ACCA has provided to this farming community since 2019 has allowed them to now have 37 acres of restored wetlands, which they are able to use as grazing areas for wild alpacas and vicuñas.

By learning about the restoration of their bofedales – a unique type of mountain wetlands that store water from melting glaciers or rivers – the residents of Japu have seen growing opportunities to share and pass along the knowledge and benefits of what they have learned by word of mouth in order to continue restoring their bofedales and pastures. 

“Learning to restore our bofedales has been vital for us because it allows us to preserve the water that feeds other communities, while also providing our alpacas with food and nutrients that improve the quality of their wool,” said Felicitas Huillca, a community member of Japu.

Bofedales are key for the community’s resilience against climate change, as they are not only regarded as reservoirs of water but also for carbon, which is stored in the form of peat 4,000 meters above sea level in the high elevations of the Andes. In fact, bofedales can store as much as 120-285 tons of carbon per acre, compared to an average of 60 tons of carbon per acre stored in the Amazon rainforest. However, these incredibly important areas are also at risk of deterioration due to overgrazing of locally raised animals, high animal density, and poor management. 

Implementing a closure technique by using a metal grid fence called cattle panels, farmers can close off specific pastures for a determined amount of time to allow wetland plant and tree species to recover, reproduce, and give fruit and seeds once again. This process can take one to two years to recover one wetland area.

Currently, 40 families of the Japu community are restoring these montane bofedales and humid puna grasslands ecosystems across an area of approximately 24 acres, making it a successful model that other local communities are interested in replicating.

Similarly, the communities of Phinaya and Sibina Sallma – which are part of the Ausangate Regional Conservation Area in the Peruvian highlands that we helped establish a few years ago – have been working to restore bofedales since 2022. These restoration areas include 24 acres where livestock, such as alpaca and vicuña, are prohibited from entering in order to prevent overgrazing, as well as another 24 acres without livestock restrictions but with water flow management. By allowing for constant water flow and thus uniform irrigation across the bofedales, the communities help prevent waterlogging, flooding, and a lack of oxygenation in these vulnerable ecosystems. Based on their current success with these initial 48 acres, for 2023 the Phinaya and Sibina Sallma communities are considering expanding their restoration activities to include another 48 acres.

It is important to note that the conservation and protection of these ecosystems leads to an important increase in the water resources of two basins: 1) the Araza Basin, which irrigates the lands of the Inambari Valley, and 2) the Vilcanota Basin, which irrigates the lowlands areas of Canchis, Quispicanchi, Cusco, Calca and Urubamba. Both of these river basins encompass unique ecological biomes in a region where the Andes transitions into Amazon, lending itself to vast altitudinal gradients, vulnerable biodiversity and species, and extensive ecological corridors essential for the survival of species working to adapt to the warming climate. In addition, these water systems feed the Machupicchu hydroelectric plant in Machu Picchu, which provides electricity to the regions of Cusco, Apurímac and Puno. As such, this is a vital area for protection and conservation.

As these models show, farming communities in the Andean highlands of the department of Cusco are taking charge of the conservation and protection of one of their primary resources: water.

These activities have been implemented thanks to the technical support of Amazon Conservation’s sister organization in Peru, Conservación Amazónica – ACCA, as well as other partner organizations such as Acción Andina, and thanks to the financial support of ECOAN, Global Forest Generation, Andes Amazon Fund and BIOLABS Foundation, with the goal of conserving degraded areas in Peru.

Supporting the Fight to Protect Biodiversity and Indigenous Territories in Bolivia

Since 2022, Conservación Amazónica – ACEAA, our sister organization in Bolivia, has been an integral part of the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which works to empower civil society to protect the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Through this partnership with the CEPF, Conservación Amazónica – ACEAA has been working on the ground with the indigenous communities of T’simane, Mosetene, and Tacana to empower them to conserve their territory in Bolivia’s Pilón-Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Communal Lands protected area.

Photo: © Ebelio Romay/CRTM.

The T’simane, Mosetene and Tacana indigenous peoples occupy the lowlands at the foothills of the Andes mountains, alongside the Bolivian Amazonian plains, an area with hilly terrain and rich wetlands. This territory is part of the Madidi – Pilón Lajas – Cotapata Ecological Corridor, which covers nearly 988,500 acres of forest, unique in that it is legally recognized as indigenous territories as well as an UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve.

Throughout history, the vast availability of natural resources in the region has led to increasing threats to the conservation of the forest and the protection of the Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Indigenous Territory. In recent years, these threats only continue to grow and intensify, including: mega hydroelectric dams, hydrocarbon prospecting, continued road encroachment into the forest, illegal settlements, and illegal gold mining, all of which put local communities and their livelihoods at risk. 

In addition to these external threats, indigenous communities in the region face high poverty rates as a result of limited access to education and resources. To address these threats, the T’simane, Mosetene and Tacana have worked together to organize themselves through the T’simane Mosetene Regional Council (CRTM based on its name in Spanish). With the support of partners CEPF and the Wildlife Conservation Society, these communities worked together to develop a Life Plan, or Management Plan, for the Biosphere Reserve, which lays out a clear diagnosis of the state of the territory and how to deal with the biggest threats. Through these life plans, these indigenous groups will fight for autonomy over their territory and the sustainable management of their natural resources in order to conserve the region’s biodiversity and improve their livelihoods.

Also through the Life Plan, the CRTM regional council has also incorporated activities to help strengthen and empower the communities’ populations in the areas of leadership, governance, communication, and financial sustainability. The Life Plan also includes activities that support local economic development, such as the sustainable harvest of forest products as well as strengthening female business leaders in the communities who are responsible for their family’s or communities’ food security. The regional council has also laid the groundwork to prepare young leaders, including providing training in indigenous rights, partnering with other actors for support, and other ways to prepare themselves to defend and manage their territory.

This approach to forest conservation has repercussions at both the macro- and micro levels: it both directly and indirectly benefits indigenous communities living in the Tropical Andes Hotspot while also encouraging the protection of one of the world’s largest carbon reserves, one of the largest freshwater reserves, and one of the most diverse regions for fauna and flora on the planet.

Through Conservación Amazónica – ACEAA’s work as a partner of CEPF, we are proud to be part of a collective effort to provide sustainable support to execute the CRTM’s Life Plan to not only improve the livelihoods of the T’simane, Mosetene and Tacana indigenous peoples and the sustainable management of forest resources, but to also empower these communities to protect their territories, be the local guardians of this biodiversity as they have for millennia, and keep the forest standing for the benefit of all across the globe.


Key Takeaways from Our Webinar on “Indigenous Peoples: Protecting Rights, Resources, and Territories across the Amazon”

“The Shuar Arutam will always fight because that is our right. […] To whoever wants to silence our voice, behind me are other generations, our children’s children, and all the indigenous peoples of the world who will keep on fighting against those who want to threaten us and stop our communities.”

– Marco Martinez, Territorial Executive of the Shuar Arutam Indigenous Community of Ecuador

On March 21, Amazon Conservation co-hosted a webinar with partner Forest Trends about “Indigenous Peoples: Protecting Rights, Resources, and Territories across the Amazon,” where we heard directly from indigenous leaders and conservation experts from Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and the US to explore how indigenous peoples are employing technology to support their territorial governance and leveraging the key role they play for climate and conservation.

  • Local Experiences in Protecting Indigenous Territories
  • Driving Climate Finance to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities through the Territorial Governance Facility
  • Technology and Governance
  • Investing in the Defense of Indigenous Territories

See the full agenda here or view the full webinar recording here in speakers’ original presentation language (English subtitles to come).

John Beavers, the Executive Director of Amazon Conservation, opened the session and provided context of the importance of protecting Indigenous rights and territories, not just for Indigenous Peoples, but also for the greater protection of the Amazon and planet. “Protecting indigenous rights, resources and territories protects the Amazon’s forests and waters and all of the rest that this implies – the protection of vital ecosystem services including their role in climate adaptation and resilience and carbon storage, biodiversity conservation, as well as providing a foundation for their countries’ and regional economies.”

Gilberto Mincaye Nenquimo, the President of the Waorani Nationality of Ecuador, provided Opening Remarks, highlighting a number of the challenges that indigenous communities such as the Waorani face in having the tools and resources to protect and govern their territories as well as the important role that NGOs and international support play due to the limitations of the federal government in having the interest and capacity to provide the resources needed to adequate monitor their territory, which covers 1,986,000 acres across three different provinces in the Ecuadorian Amazon. “The end goal is that the territory is completely controlled and monitored by the Waorani community and that the people learn how to manage whatever they need. And before we couldn’t do that; we didn’t have any tools. So now we do have tools and things that we can use to improve the condition and the support from other NGOs is super important to us.”

Setting the stage for the rest of the speakers, Gilberto highlighted the pivotal challenge that his community, like many others, currently face as they are seeing the need to “defend the last forests as many have already been destroyed, and now our rivers, our landscape are being damaged and there are less spaces to protect.” Given the dire need and desire to take action in the absence of state support, they want the international community to know: “We don’t have that expertise but we do have the ability to learn.”

The event’s moderator Meryl Cohen, Amazon Conservation’s Programs Director, reminded viewers of the heightened dangers many of the local communities face in protecting their territories and resources, “as we see increasing threats of violence from illegal actors on a regular basis, and the number of indigenous activists killed each year continues to increase with impunity.” Meryl also indicated several determining factors in indigenous peoples’ ability to successfully protect their lands, including tenure rights; access to technology and training to put that technology into action; right to self determination; cooperation and inclusive decision making; and the basic recognition of inherent rights of indigenous peoples. To introduce the first panel on Local Experiences in Protecting Indigenous Territories, Meryl noted, “Drawing on diverse knowledges and cultural values, meaningful participation and inclusive engagement processes—including indigenous knowledge, local knowledge, and scientific knowledge—facilitates climate resilient development, builds capacity and allows locally appropriate and socially acceptable solutions.”

Local Experiences in Protecting Indigenous Territories

Kicking off the panel on Local Experiences, we heard from representatives from FENAMAD (the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River region) in Peru. Alfredo Vargas, newly-elected President of FENAMAD, Julio Cusirichi Palacios, former FENAMAD President, and Pepe Torres, who coordinates FENAMAD’s Community Monitoring and Oversight Program (called Programa de Veeduría in Spanish), describe the difficulties their Federation has faced with getting support from the government to protect their territories in the Madre de Dios region, where illegal mining is a major threat to the Amazon and Indigenous communities living there. Julio explains, “the state gives support to third parties that threaten our territories with invasions, incursions, and concessions, and instead of helping, … the state actually adds to the vulnerability of these communities.” Thanks to the support of partners like the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and Amazon Conservation, however, FENAMAD has been able to develop a community monitoring program with the technical capacity and system in place to identify incursions on their territory, produce the coordinates and satellite imagery to submit formal complaints, and utilize the state’s legal system to pressure the government to enforce the rule of law and address illegal mining in the region.

The next speaker Kareen Cartagena, the Monitoring Lead for the Tacana 1 territory in northeastern Bolivia who works with CIPTA, the Tacana Community Indigenous Council, discussed the challenges the Tacana’s 22 communities face as they are still fighting for legal titling of their territory that has yet to be formalized by the government and as a result, their land has been subject to illegal mining, hunting and fishing as well as agricultural encroachment, and many of the communities don’t have access to basic services like water, electricity, or a health center. With the support of partners like the Moore Foundation and Amazon Conservation, the Tacana have been developing their own monitoring systems, which “is not just monitoring, it is also strengthening the capacity and the abilities of Indigenous people,” but Kareen emphasized that they “need to add more efforts to this fight to be able to preserve our way of life, which is  peaceful coexistence.”

Marco Martinez, the Territorial Executive of the Shuar Arutam Indigenous Community (PSHA) in Ecuador, spoke next about the Shuar Arutam’s ongoing fight against large-scale mining, which the government, despite signing agreements and commitments to conservation, has unfortunately allowed to expand and in their wake destroyed the beaches, rivers, and communities in the region. In response, the Shuar Arutam have been working with Fundación EcoCiencia, a new in-country partner of Amazon Conservation, to monitor their territory on their own, determined to halt the threats to the land and resources: “We have to be the ones who respond to these issues as the original people that lived here. We have to be part of how to stop this atrocity that is occurring and to safeguard the future or else our generation will be exterminated. I say so because the government doesn’t stop, the state doesn’t stop.”

To wrap up this first section about Local Experiences, Maial Kaiapó, who is a community member of the Kayapó Indigenous Community in Brazil, and Igor Ferreira, GIS Director of the Kayapó Project, who shared how the Kayapó have successfully established a Protected Forest Association so that the Kayapó could use technology and MAAP satellite imagery to protect their territory through partnership with Amazon Conservation’s Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP). Located in the infamous arc of deforestation where 80% of the deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon takes place, the Kayapó are “at the center of the conflict that pits indigenous peoples against the illegal loggers, miners, the hydroelectric companies, and so we are being impacted by different forms of destruction of our environment and of deforestation.” When, as Maial and Igor explained, “the prior administration was bent on destroying our rights and our lands,” they are finding empowerment by continuing “to resist and to fight to fulfill our very important role of monitoring, oversight, collecting information all for the purpose of continuing to protect our people, our communities, villages, and to gather information, the evidence necessary with which to take to the courts to bring lawsuits against the state if necessary.” With each lawsuit success, they are advancing the protection of their territory and conservation of the forest for all indigenous peoples in the Amazon.

Driving Climate Finance to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities through the Territorial Governance Facility

The following section looked at the role of finance as it relates to indigenous territories and territorial management. First to speak on the subject was Beto Borges, the Director of Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative, who co-hosted this webinar. Beto acknowledged the important fight the indigenous leaders are facing and the life-threatening challenges to being able to protect and govern indigenous territories and conserve their resources. Unfortunately, less than 1% of climate funding in the international community actually reaches communities directly, so Forest Trends launched the Territorial Governance Facility this year with the objective of “strengthening the territorial governance of indigenous peoples and local communities” by providing culturally-appropriate technical and financial assistance needed so that they can engage in conservation and climate finance. Forest Trends expects that the Territorial Governance Facility will help close the gap in aid directly received by local communities.

“We’ve heard from our indigenous leaders about the importance and the challenges that they’re having in relation to protecting their territories and promoting the good governance of their territories. But in order to do that, it’s important to drive climate and conservation finance directly to the hands of these indigenous leaders who are fighting with their own lives to protect their territories.”

– Beto Borges, Director of Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative, Forest Trends

Technology and Governance

For the webinar’s next section on the role of technology and governance in protecting Indigenous territories, Maria DiGiano, the Program Officer for the Andes-Amazon Initiative of The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, provided a philanthropic perspective on lessons learned from the Moore Foundation’s 20 years of investment in conserving the Amazon biome. Maria described how the Moore Foundation has been following the important contributions of Indigenous territories, community monitoring, and the impacts of the recognition of local and Indigenous rights for conservation and has been reworking how they invest in biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. As heard from the panelists in this webinar, creating protected areas is not enough to conserve these forests and mitigate threats. Maria spoke about how tools for territorial management and protection “can also serve as pathways to recognizing other rights, such as self-determination and empowering communities to advocate for rights to food security, a safe environment, [and] health” and how “investments in technology and monitoring allow territorial managers to respond in real time to threats, and helps us understand the contributions of these territories to mitigating those threats and promoting conservation outcomes.” Based on these learnings, the Moore Foundation is also moving forward with investments in systemic changes by supporting governance, including efforts to make legal frameworks stronger, make sure legal frameworks are actually implemented and enforced, and ensuring people at all levels have the capacity to engage effectively in securing those rights.

We next heard from Amazon Conservation’s MAAP Director, Matt Finer. Matt presented the about how real time monitoring and MAAP data continues to support key evidence of the importance of Indigenous territories for conservation across the Amazon, as published in the recently published MAAP #183 report on Protected Areas and Indigenous Territories Effective Against Deforestation Across Amazon. In this report, Amazon Conservation evaluated the impact of two of the most important land-use categories: protected areas and indigenous territories. Our study looked across all nine countries of the Amazon biome, a vast area of 2.18 billion acres. We documented the loss of 27 million acres of primary forests across all nine countries of the Amazon biome between 2017 and 2021. For the major land use categories, we identified that 11% of the forest loss occurred in both protected areas and indigenous territories, while the remaining 78% occurred outside these designations. This shows that protected areas and indigenous territories are vital tools to keep deforestation and fires at bay.

To close this section about Governance, we heard from Humberto Balbuena, the Environmental Policy and Governance Director of Conservación Amazónica – ACCA, Amazon Conservation’s sister organization based in Peru, who shared how important good governance and effectively applying the law are to protect indigenous territories and reach conservation goals. While creating a legal framework is relatively easy, Humberto explained, but whether the framework is realistic, well-articulated, effective, and fair is a different matter. Furthermore, the application of the law depends on government institutions understanding how to apply the law, transparency, strengthening capabilities of its agents and actors, anti-corruption and trust, and working to engage with actors and civil society in cooperative efforts to find what gaps may exist and build trust. 

In the case of Peru, Conservación Amazónica – ACCA has been working with local communities and government to implement monitoring, especially satellite monitoring, “to make better informed and real time decisions.” Humberto emphasized: “Environmental Justice shouldn’t be an ideal, but it should be a tangible reality that we are able to identify and exemplify… The indigenous communities are agents of change with an important role in the conservation of the Amazon.”

Investing in the Defense of Indigenous Territories

In the webinar’s final section, Michael Owen from Indufor North America shared recent research about recent finance trends supporting Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in Latin America, highlighting that despite increased interest, new donors, and new funding agreements, funding for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities did not changed significantly from 2017-2020 and only started to notably increase in 2021 thanks to growing interest from private funders. Unfortunately, Michael stated, “A disproportionate share of this finance that includes Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities has been in the forest management, conservation, and biodiversity space. Rights or territorial mapping has not been the core priority for the bulk of this funding.”

Click to see Michael Owen's presentation on Investing in the Defense of Indigenous Territories
Click to see Michael Owen’s full presentation.

An important takeaway from this research, Michael noted, is that on the ground we are seeing that national and local NGOs have been the single largest source of direct financing for Indigenous Peoples Organizations (IPOs) in Latin America. Although they only received 26% of total funding disbursements, they were responsible for 41% of all disbursements to IPOs, while International Organizations have only included IPOs in 25% of their disbursements. Michael concluded, “Our data and research…shows that partnering with national and local NGOs creates lasting, strong relationships that enable real, potentially direct, change.”

Closing Remarks

To close the session, Anita Tzec, who is Maya Yucatec from Belize and the Senior Program Manager on Indigenous Peoples & Conservation in the IUCN’s Human Rights in Conservation Team, shared some of her main takeaways from the webinar. Anita summarized the session’s key themes, which include that 1) indigenous territories must be recognized as high value territories of life, not only for indigenous peoples but for all of humanity and biodiversity; 2) Indigenous peoples must define inclusive financing investment priorities: investments in conservation, climate change, biodiversity must come from the ground; 3) Indigenous peoples must be decision makers in the governance of inclusive financing at all levels, from the local to global and global to local; and 4) national governments have a key responsibility in scaling up inclusive financing for indigenous peoples and recognizing them as rights holders.

Anita closed the webinar with a call for national governments, the environmental donor community, and allies to stand up for Mother Earth and Indigenous Peoples, and with a final inspiring note from the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya:

“Que todos se levanten, que nadie se quede atrás, que nos seamos ni uno ni dos de nosotros, sino todos.”
[“That we all stand up, that nobody is left behind, that it is not just one or two of us, but all of us.”]

– Popol Vuh, sacred book of the Maya

Thank you to all our participants and panelists for attending our session. Watch the webinar recording here (English subtitles will be added shortly). To see what other upcoming events we have, please visit

Celebrating International Women’s Day by Empowering Women Bird Guides in Peru

Among birders, a Big Day is a day in which birders or teams of birders strive to identify and record as many bird species in a defined area as they can in a single day. 

This year, Amazon Conservation is proud to sponsor the first-ever Women’s Big Day in Peru at our Manu Conservation Hub in the Peruvian Amazon!


The first Women’s Big Day aims to highlight women birders and elevate the inclusion of women leaders in birding, naturalism, and conservation as well as raise awareness of the importance of protecting biodiversity.

Every year, birders from all over the world flock to Peru because of its rich avifauna. In and around Manu National Park, where our Manu Conservation Hub is located, one can encounter nearly 10% of all bird species found on Earth. Birding has long generated important economic value for Peru and incentivizes the protection of habitat and biodiversity. However, there are very few women bird guides in Peru, and this event hopes to change that.

The 2-day event begins with a workshop that explains the basics of birding, allows attendees to share their experiences, and demonstrates that learning from the environment is an important, worthy life goal. Open to birders of all skill and experience levels, the workshop empowers local women with the tools to learn about birding in a fun and supportive environment. Day 2, the Big Day, is spent in the field identifying and recording birds spotted. 

Doris Valencia Puclla, one of the very few women bird guides in Perú, observes:

“My experience in this field has been very satisfactory over the years. However, the beginnings were not easy as I felt that I don’t have the same opportunities. Many times, my ability has been questioned because I am a woman. It took a lot of time and effort to position myself as a professional in the field of birdwatching, basically because most professionals in this field are male and many still believe that women are not capable. I have shown that we are capable and can be even better. This has led me to form my own company to organize trips in Peru and recently Colombia, besides working for one of the largest birdwatching agencies in the world. I think that the only thing we have to overcome is ourselves, and believe in our worth.”

Meet the Team Behind Women’s Big Day

Doris Valencia Puclla

Doris is a keen Peruvian bird watcher and naturalist. Her passion for the outdoors and bird watching has its roots in her childhood in southeastern Peru. She leads birding trips throughout Peru and recently in Colombia. Doris marries her birding skills with a broad interest in all aspects of natural history. Currently, she is the director of the Pacha Conservancy Project, which works with reforestation, outdoor education, research, and community outreach in the fragile cloud forest north of Cusco-Peru.


Claudia Torres Sovero

Claudia is a passionate birder and university teacher. Currently, she is a Senior Consultant in ecology, sustainable development based on ecotourism, education, and science. She has more than fifteen years of experience in research, education, consulting, and implementation of citizen science projects in the tourist experience. She has been in charge of organizing the Global Big Day events since 2017 with Rainforest Expeditions.


Juliana Andrea Morales

Juliana is an Entomologist and bird enthusiast. Currently, she is the Manu Biostation Lab Manager. She has more than 10 years of experience working in Colombia and the Peruvian Amazon as a consultant. Juliana’s topics of interest include vector-borne diseases research projects, mostly Malaria, Dengue, and Leishmaniasis.



Keeping Forest-Based Economies Clean with Certified Organic Practices

Thanks to support and training from our Peruvian sister organization, Conservación Amazónica ACCA, 146 Brazil nut harvesters that make up the Indigenous Forestry Association of Madre de Dios (AFIMAD) renewed the organic certification of their Brazil nuts through the meticulous verification and renewal process of the international Certification of Environmental Standards (CERES).

This certification will benefit the market value of the products from indigenous communities who manage the sustainable production and sale of 71 thousand tons of Brazil nuts annually while helping conserve the more than 12,000 hectares (over 29,652 acres) of pristine forest in the Peruvian Amazon in which they grow. 

Conservación Amazónica ACCA provided technical assistance to help strengthen the capacities of Brazil nut harvesters on issues related to sustainable forest management, organic certification, and the regulatory aspects of CERES. This training and capacity building helps ensure the quality and organic integrity of the products and leads to the successful renewal of the organic certification, thus ensuring better access to higher-value markets for these harvesters and the conservation of a healthy forest.












Supporter Spotlight: Ryan Bailey

From Nashville to the Amazon: Linking Business, Sustainability, and Ecosystems

Business supporters are one of Amazon Conservation’s favorite avenues to raise awareness and support for our work because of their unhindered desire to give back to the planet. Whether directly donating to our work, promoting awareness of the Amazon’s importance to their clients, running campaigns to raise money for our cause, or all of the above, the support we receive from these partners is making a real difference in our work and messaging. Our business partners also inspire us and other supporters by how fully they align and integrate their commitment to the environment into their business and values.

This month, we are proud to highlight Ryan Bailey, a star supporter from the business community who has been an Amazon Conservation donor since 2016. As part of their integrated commitment to sustainability, he and his family have been donating a portion of the sales from their family business Bailey Equipment and Intralogistics as well as Ryan’s own business Cumberland Kayak, both based in Nashville, Tennessee, towards our work to protect the Amazon. For Ryan, his passion for the outdoors and conservation – from the forests of Tennessee to the rainforests of Central and South America – is driven by a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of these ecosystems:

We have purple martins that nest in Nashville. There’s a big roost of about 100,000 birds every year, and then they fly down to Brazil. Just seeing the way that we’re all connected, from here in Tennessee to Brazil and South America, it’s just amazing.

Instilled with the desire to protect nature from a very young age, Ryan and his family have put the environment at the forefront and are leading the way in environmental sustainability and zero-waste in Tennessee. Leading by example, Bailey Equipment and Intralogistics encourages other businesses to become environmentally sustainable and donate to impactful nonprofits making a difference.

Learn more about Amazon Conservation’s business partnership opportunities here or contact to get started.

Read the full interview with Ryan below: 

Can you tell us about your background? 

My name is Ryan Bailey, and I’m from Nashville, Tennessee. Growing up, my whole family was always really passionate about the outdoors. We grew up hiking, and my mom is a naturalist, so we would always look for frogs and birds, and things of that nature in Tennessee. And as a kid, we went a couple of times to Costa Rica, which was a great opportunity to see the jungle. That is where I first started caring about the rainforest. Maybe it’s also tied to growing up in the 90s; those Captain Planet videos got me! 

I went to school at UNC-Chapel Hill and studied environmental science and business, and then I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica. I lived in Costa Rica for two years, in the jungle, between two volcanoes. It was a small town, and there was a national park nearby. I worked with the biological corridor and started a microfinance bank in the town that supported women’s groups, small businesses, and ecotourism projects. I was able to teach accounting in Spanish, which was tough at the time for me, but I figured it out. That microfinance bank is still going today, about 14 years later!

After that, I moved to DC for a couple of years, where I worked at Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) in their microfinance department. Ever since, I’ve been living in Nashville, where I co-run my family’s forklift dealership called Bailey Equipment and Intralogistics with my brother, dad, and aunt. We have 12 locations across Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky. I also started Cumberland Kayak in 2015, which is a kayak and adventure outfitter in Nashville with two locations – one under the Nashville skyline and the other offering trips to the base of a 136’ waterfall.

I also like to exercise, get outdoors, and I’m on the board of a non-profit called TennGreen Land Conservancy.

What initially inspired you to support environmental causes generally and to help conserve the Amazon rainforest more specifically? Why do you think it is important to protect it? 

As someone who has always cared a lot about the rainforest and biodiversity – the Amazon was always particularly important to me. I learned Spanish, and I’ve started learning Portuguese, in part so that I can be in tune with conservation work in Central and South America, visit the area, and support efforts in the Amazon. For me, the Amazon really represents the lungs of the Americas and a place of rich biodiversity – I’m really a wildlife nerd – that’s always been really exciting to me, as well as the importance to the global ecosystem as a whole. So that’s why I’ve always been interested in the Amazon.

Also, when living in Bijagua, my town in Costa Rica, I particularly became interested in jaguars and mountain lions because those both lived in my town. I think the biological corridor for those two animals is so interesting. It just runs up through the entire Americas, with the Amazon really being the center of it all. It’s interesting seeing the different habitats and the different ways the species move around. We have purple martins that nest in Nashville. There’s a big roost of about 100,000 birds every year, and then they fly down to Brazil. Just seeing the way that we’re all connected, from here in Tennessee to Brazil and South America, it’s just amazing.

What stands out about Amazon Conservation compared to other organizations? 

It’s the longevity of the organization, the desire to not only make an impact when it comes to land conservation, but also the overall stewardship of the land – working with indigenous populations, governments, everybody that really is a stakeholder in the success of the Amazon and keeping it from being destroyed.

As a donor since 2016, what keeps you coming back and supporting us?

You all do a great job of telling the story of the work that you’re doing, which is always powerful. I usually check in with Amazon Conservation Association at the end of the year, and it’s apparent every year the track record of success and improvements. But not only that, there’s an evolving strategy that changes and utilizes technology and is proactive, it’s not just doing the same thing year after year.

Do you have a favorite program or initiative that stands out to you?

The IT program, where the drones look at forest fires and help monitor the property. That’s really cool. I’ve done a lot of bushwhacking myself, and it can be difficult to get to some places, so you need technology to do that.

What would you say to other environmentally-conscious people and businesses about how they can help make a difference and help conserve the Amazon?

If you want to support an organization or a particular type of work like the work this organization does, I recommend contributing a percentage of sales. We donate 2% of sales at Cumberland Kayak and that holds us accountable through our donations. I think that’s been a great tool for us and also allows us to talk about the nonprofit organizations we support as people come across the website, and they engage with the kayak company. I really like that strategy.

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

Bailey Equipment and Intralogistics Company is really focused on environmental sustainability. We’re the first zero-waste certified company in Tennessee and also the first TRUE zero-waste certified material handling solutions company in the US. We’re very proud of that. We’re also trying to figure out how we can help other businesses become more environmentally sustainable, and part of that again ties back to donations.