MAAP #83: Climate Change Defense: Amazon Protected Areas and Indigenous Lands

May 4, 2018

Tropical forests, especially the Amazon, sequester huge amounts of carbon, one of the main greenhouse gases driving climate change.

Base Map. Data: Asner et al 2014, MINAM/PNCB, SERNANP, IBC
Base Map. Data: Asner et al 2014, MINAM/PNCB, SERNANP, IBC

Here, we show the importance of protected areas and indigenous lands to safeguard these carbon stocks.

In MAAP #81, we estimated the loss of 59 million metric tons of carbon in the Peruvian Amazon during the last five years (2013-17) due to forest loss, especially deforestation from mining and agricultural activities.

This finding reveals that forest loss represents nearly half (47%) of Peru’s annual carbon emissions, including from burning fossil fuels.1,2

In contrast, here we show that protected areas and indigenous lands have safeguarded 3.17 billion metric tons of carbon, as of 2017.3,4

The Base Map (on the right) shows, in shades of green, the current carbon densities in relation to these areas.

The breakdown of results are:
1.85 billion tons safeguarded in the Peruvian national protected areas system;
1.15 billion tons safeguarded in titled native community lands; and
309.7 million tons safeguarded in Territorial Reserves for indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation.

The total safeguarded carbon (3.17 billion metric tons) is the equivalent to 2.5 years of carbon emissions from the United States.5

Below, we show several examples of how protected areas and indigenous lands are safeguarding carbon reservoirs in important areas, indicated by insets A-E.