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! 

Earth Month Wrap-Up: Become a Champion for Nature and Biodiversity

As Earth Month draws to a close, we want to share the impact of your contribution this month to honor nature and protect biodiversity conservation in the Amazon. All ecosystems, near and far, are interconnected and depend on the health of the planet. Protecting the rainforest’s diverse ecosystems and biodiversity is crucial to protecting wildlife, people, and ways of life across the globe. 

By becoming a champion for nature and biodiversity today, you are joining a movement with long-term global impacts. Here’s what taking action can look like: 

  • Your contribution of $25 can plant 20 trees to restore damaged habits in the Amazon. 
  • Your contribution of $50 can protect about 2 acres of Andean bear habitat, a keystone species that helps regenerate forests through seed dispersal.
  • Your contribution of $100 can guarantee the protection of 500 acres at our Los Amigos Conservation Hub and protected area in the Peruvian Amazon for one year.
  • Your contribution of $250 can prevent 5,400 metric tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere through the protection of standing forests, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of over 1,000 cars.
  • Your contribution of $5,000 can train one local community member in drone operations to monitor up to 500 acres of forests, helping identify and combat illegal deforestation.

Make a difference today!

By strengthening our on-the-ground conservation efforts and supporting sustainable production, you are helping us work across boundaries to combat nature crimes and empower local people to strengthen forest-based economies as essential steps in improving the well-being of local communities, safeguarding nature, and protecting the region’s rich biodiversity.

Learn more about how you can honor nature and support biodiversity protection this Earth Month!

 

 

 

ACCA and ACEAA Join the South American Forest Conservation Alliance (SAFCA)

On March 11th, representatives from our sister organizations Conservación Amazónica-ACEAA and Conservación Amazónica-ACCA met with the Foundation for the Conservation of the Chiquitano Forest – FCBC from Bolivia and Aktion Amazonas – AKAM from Denmark in Puerto Maldonado, Peru to formalize the creation of South American Forest Conservation Alliance (SAFCA) through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This new alliance represents the beginning of an international effort committed to conserving biodiversity and sustainable development in the Amazon and Chiquitanía, a tropical savannas region in the Santa Cruz Department of Bolivia.

SAFCA aims to integrate collective efforts in addressing environmental issues and initiate solutions for protecting biodiversity, the rights of local and indigenous people, and combating deforestation in the Amazon. The main objective is to form a strategic approach via landscape connectivity for conserving the tropical forests that stretch from the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest to the Bolivian Chiquitano Forest in Santa Cruz. 

Conservación Amazónica – ACCA coordinated this event to exchange experiences between indigenous leaders, environmental defenders, and Peruvian national authorities to help understand what issues and environmental crimes threaten the Amazon, and how legal action can be taken to address such. María Elena Gutiérrez and Marcos Terán, Executive Directors of Conservación Amazónica-ACCA and Conservación Amazónica-ACEAA respectively, attended this event on behalf of the alliance to emphasize the importance of the social and cultural factors surrounding the Amazonian-Chiquitano landscape, which are vital for understanding solutions for sustainable development and adequate adaptation to climate resilience. Furthermore, FENAMAD Vice President Eusebio Ríos voiced his concerns about challenges faced by indigenous communities largely due to a high increase in illegal activities and violence in the Peruvian Amazon. In response, Toke F. Nyborg from Aktion Amazonas, highlighted the necessity for civil action among local communities and decision-makers when it comes to addressing major threats to the ecosystem. Technical team members from our Peru and Bolivia teams also shared their fieldwork, monitoring initiatives, climatic data, and experiences working with young people and community leaders in environmental monitoring and advocacy. 

Amazon Conservation and its alliance has had a long history of teaming up with partners across the Amazon to initiate effective conservation efforts to protect biodiversity and local and indigenous people. Overall, understanding key issues in the Amazon opens doors to opportunities for solutions and action-taking when conserving South America’s tropical forests. The formation of SAFCA will help lead to collective efforts in building climate reliance, strengthening livelihoods, and benefiting both the planet and humanity. 

Information and photos provided by Conservación Amazónica-ACEAA and Maia Galmés Feuer of Aktion Amazonas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join Us in Celebrating Biodiversity for Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day from all of us at Amazon Conservation!

We appreciate all you have done over the past weeks to honor nature and support biodiversity protection this Earth Month. In honor of Earth Day, join us in celebrating the one-of-a-kind biodiversity of the rainforest. We invite you to take a moment to reflect on the global and local importance of this region and how you can take action to help protect this unique biodiversity. 

The Amazon gives us up to 20% of the air we breathe, stores 25% of the world’s water, and stabilizes the Earth’s climate. A thriving Amazon matters to the people and wildlife living there, the countries it encompasses, and the world.  Together we can empower people to become champions for our environment, protect millions of acres of wild places, and put science and technology to work for conservation.

How YOU can make a real impact: 

  • Support real work on the ground by making a contribution to honor nature and support biodiversity protection. Better yet, set up a recurring donation this Earth Day by marking your gift as “Monthly” and join our community of conservation heroes working together to build a collective movement to sustain the long-term conservation of the Amazon.
  • Plant your seed today – at no cost to you today – to support long-term conservation goals by including Amazon Conservation in your will or trust. Create your will for free today.
  • Enlist your friends and family in protecting the Amazon by creating a crowdfunding campaign this Earth Month!
  • Spread the word about the importance of the Amazon with your friends and community by including us in your Giving Circle. Reach out to us at info@amazonconservation.org for more information.
  • Maximize your impact on the planet by checking if your contribution is eligible for a match from your employer, by making a contribution from your Donor-Advised Fund, or by aligning your business with our mission by becoming a Business Partner. Learn more about these various Ways to Give here.
  • Did you know we accept donations of stock, cryptocurrency, and Qualified Charitable Distributions? Learn more about these various Ways to Give here or reach out to donations@amazonconservation.org with any questions.

 

By joining our on-the-ground conservation efforts, you are helping us work across boundaries to combat nature crimes to safeguard nature and biodiversity for all who depend on the forest.

By supporting sustainable production, you are empowering local people and strengthening forest-based economies as an essential step in improving the well-being of local communities, safeguarding nature, and protecting the region’s rich biodiversity.

This Earth Day, remember that your favorite local natural spot is connected to ecosystems near and far, including the Amazon. Protecting the rainforest’s diverse ecosystems and biodiversity helps protect wildlife, people, and ways of life across the planet. 

Thank you for standing with us this Earth Day to honor nature, protect biodiversity, and improve the well-being of local people!

 

 

MAAP: Illegal roads and Deforestation in Indigenous Reserves & National Parks of the Colombian Amazon

Primary forests in the Colombian Amazon are at risk from a variety of drivers such as illegal roads, which expose them to further threats of deforestation due to cattle pastures, land grabbing, and coca production. These illegal roads threaten protected areas, national parks, and Indigenous territories (referred to as  Resguardos in Colombia).

Our newest report, MAAP #211, documents these impacts in two important areas in the heart of the Colombian Amazon: the Llanos del Yari-Yaguara II Indigenous Reserve and the adjacent Chiribiquete National Park. In the Llanos del Yari-Yaguara II Indigenous Reserve, the construction of a new road is causing massive deforestation within and adjacent to the territory (856 hectares, or 2,115 acres, in total). In Chiribiquete National Park, we see the expansion of deforestation of 64 hectares (158 acres) along an illegal road penetrating the northwest sector of this important protected area.

In the report, we show a series of satellite images for both cases.

Read the full report here.

 

 

Sustainable Production: Safeguarding Nature to Improve the Well-Being of Local People

This month, we continue to celebrate Earth Month by honoring nature and all of the unique biodiversity and resources that the Amazon offers us. Do you know some of the most exotic, healthy, and sustainable fruits that come to us from the Amazon? From Brazil nuts to açaí berries, the forest is full of nutritious goods that are the key to improving the well-being of local families while also keeping forests intact. 

Sustainable production – which we also refer to as forest-based economy or bioeconomy – means harvesting naturally growing fruits and nuts from forests that are healthy and thriving rather than exploiting monocultures of a single product that quickly depletes the forest. It means diversifying products to support a biodiverse ecosystem that is resilient and able to adapt to the changing climate as well as providing local harvesters with a steady source of income year-round with varying harvest cycles. 

Support Sustainable Production to Protect Biodiversity

As an integral part of our work to prioritize a forest-based economy across the region, sustainable production also means empowering local producers and families by providing the capacity, tools, and infrastructure that support a sustainable forest-based economy, higher and more stable income, safer harvesting conditions, and improved well-being for local families. As we expand this successful economic model to more communities across the Bolivian Amazon, we have simultaneously supported the growth of local producer associations and their resilience to the impacts of climate change by helping develop local platforms like the Amazon Fruit and Climate Change Observatory

Supporting sustainable production also greatly benefits the Amazon and its vast biodiversity by promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and reinforcing the value of keeping forests healthy and standing. In addition, the success of forest-based economies across the region demonstrates their viability as an alternative to destructive economic activities like mining and logging. A successful forest-based economy centered on sustainable production goes hand in hand with improving the well-being of local people while protecting the sustainable resources of the Amazon for generations to come. 

Learn more about the benefits of building a forest-based economy here.

Your contribution this Earth Month strengthens sustainable production and protects biodiversity across the Amazon

Over the next decade, Amazon Conservation aims to create a true forest-based, climate-resilient economy across 37 million acres of the Amazon by strengthening local communities to fully benefit from the sustainable production of forest-friendly products provided by these rich forests. 

To achieve this goal, we are working on the ground alongside local Amazonian communities to optimize the sustainable production of Brazil nuts, acai berries, and other potential goods by helping add value to the products they harvest, diversifying their economic activities, and establishing climate-smart strategies that build resilience and adaptability for them and their forests.

Thank you for standing with us this Earth Month to honor nature, protect biodiversity, and improve the well-being of local people by supporting sustainable production!

 

 

 

Combating Nature Crimes: Safeguarding Nature and Biodiversity

April is not just a time for spring blossoms and warmer weather—it’s also Earth Month, a time to reflect on our planet’s incredible biodiversity and the urgent need to protect it. The Amazon’s rich biodiversity and all that depend on it – including local families, wildlife, and the world’s ability to regulate climate change – are under threat from a variety of drivers, one of the most significant being nature crimes. These illegal activities, ranging from illegal wildlife trafficking to deforestation, not only pose a severe threat to the overall forest cover of the Amazon and ecosystems worldwide but also undermine the conservation efforts and progress that have taken decades to put in place. 

As we delve into Earth Month, we want to highlight how combating these nature crimes is essential for safeguarding biodiversity and how our working as a founding member of the recently-established Nature Crime Alliance is a crucial next step in protecting biodiversity across the Amazon.

Deforestation: A Global Challenge

Some of the leading drivers of deforestation in the Amazon are criminal forms of logging, mining, fishing, wildlife trade, and land conversion. These nature crimes frequently converge with each other and other forms of international criminal activity. 

The region’s forests are biodiversity hotspots, teeming with life found nowhere else. However, rampant deforestation threatens this biodiversity, pushing species to the brink of extinction.

Combating deforestation requires a multifaceted approach since local law enforcement and environmental agencies responsible for addressing nature crimes are often underfunded, understaffed, overworked, and exacerbated by how commonplace corruption is. With this myriad of challenges in fighting illegal activities, joint efforts between civil society organizations, local communities, and governments are crucial to effectively combat the alarmingly increasing rates of illegal deforestation and nature crimes through real-time satellite monitoring, swift action on the ground, and reinforcing local land and territorial rights.

Through our Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Program and our integral role with the Nature Crime Alliance, we are working alongside local families, Indigenous communities, and regional governmental agencies to quickly identify and halt harmful economic activities that contribute to deforestation, offering a path toward both climate action and biodiversity preservation.

The Price of Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity is the foundation of all healthy ecosystems. It encompasses all living organisms from microscopic bacteria to towering trees — each of which plays a vital role in maintaining ecological balance. When biodiversity is lost, ecosystems become vulnerable. This vulnerability extends to the well-being of humans, impacting our food security, water quality, and resilience to natural disasters.

Nature crimes drastically affect biodiversity loss by directly targeting unique species and key habitats. Poaching, for example, decimates populations of iconic species like the jaguar, Andean bear, and tropical birds. Deforestation, often driven by illegal logging, destroys the homes of countless plant and animal species. These crimes don’t just harm wildlife; they disrupt entire ecosystems, leading to a domino effect of environmental degradation.

The Link to Climate Change

Beyond the immediate loss of species and habitats, nature crimes have broader implications, including their contribution to climate change. Deforestation, for instance, not only destroys biodiversity-rich ecosystems but also releases stored carbon into the atmosphere, intensifying the effects of global warming. 

Unchecked agricultural activities can also speed up the destruction of critical ecosystems, as experienced by communities in the Andean Highlands when over-grazing for wild alpacas and vicuñas destroyed a vulnerable wetland ecosystem. Preserving forests and other natural habitats is a vital strategy for mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity simultaneously. 

Individual Actions for Collective Impact

While these challenges may seem daunting, individuals can make a difference! Making a donation to Amazon Conservation’s sustainable conservation efforts and joining our Wild Keepers community of monthly givers are tangible ways to make an impact this Earth Month.

As we celebrate Earth Month, let’s remember that protecting biodiversity is not just an ecological issue; it’s a human imperative. Combating nature crimes, whether through tackling illegal wildlife trade, stopping illegal gold mining, or preserving forests, is fundamental to this mission. By safeguarding biodiversity, we not only protect the incredible variety of life on Earth but also secure a healthier, more resilient future for generations to come. This Earth Month, let’s stand together as stewards of the Amazon and of our planet, committed to halting nature crimes and to preserving the rainforest’s precious biodiversity for all.

Your contribution this Earth Month helps protect biodiversity across the Amazon