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Study says 40% of Amazon region is potentially conserved — more than officially recorded

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Study says 40% of Amazon region is potentially conserved — more than officially recorded

Study says 40% of Amazon region is potentially conserved — more than officially recorded

byLiz Kimbrough

  • A new study reveals that more than 40% of land across nine Amazonian countries is under some form of conservation management, significantly higher than the 28% reported in official records.
  • The research highlights the crucial role of Indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation, with Indigenous territories covering 16% of the total land area of the nine Amazonian countries and community-managed conservation areas adding another 3.5%.
  • Despite these findings, the Amazon still faces serious threats from deforestation, fire and climate change, leading some experts to question whether the global “30×30” conservation target is adequate.
  • The study’s authors propose a new inventory approach to conservation planning, emphasizing the need to understand existing conservation efforts and governance structures before creating new protected areas or allocating resources.

A larger portion of the Amazonian region might be under protection or potentially conserved than official records indicate, according to anew studypublished in the journalOne Earth.

A team of international researchers found that more than 40% of land across the nine Amazonian countries is under some form of conservation management, significantly higher than the 28% reported in official records. This figure includes all biomes in the region such as the Amazon rainforest, the Cerrado, Atlantic forest, the Chaco, and Pantanal. In the Amazon rainforest alone, 62.44% of land is under some sort of area-based conservation.

To arrive at this number, the authors looked beyond traditional protected areas such as national parks and nature reserves. They gathered information from scientific papers, legal documents and local knowledge to include land managed by Indigenous peoples, community-based natural resource management areas, regions covered by payment for ecosystem services programs and even sustainably managed forest production areas.

The researchers say this method provides a more complete picture of conservation efforts than current tracking systems and will help others assess the effectiveness of different types of conservation governance systems.

“Knowing who is governing these lands and how, as well as recognizing their visions related to conservation, is the first step to collectively planning for a fair and feasible future for our planet,” Siyu Qin, a lead author of the study, told Mongabay.

Women from the Sinangoe Indigenous Guard in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Alexandra Narváez, third from left, led the creation of the Indigenous Guard in 2017. Her community went on win a major legal victory, preventing mining in 52 forest concessions. Image courtesy of theGoldman Environmental Prize.

The study emphasizes the role of Indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation. Indigenous territories cover 16% of the total land area of the nine Amazonian countries, while other community-managed conservation areas add another 3.5%. Large conservation gains came from Indigenous lands, especially where communities have been granted robust land rights.

Sustainable use reserves and community-managed forests also encompassed significant areas. While not all of these lands are managed solely for strict conservation, the authors note their importance for maintaining ecosystem services and sustainable livelihoods.

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