Image Source: Reuters
With industrialization’s illusory progress enticing less-developed nations with notions of ‘ease’, protecting the Amazon’s deforestation in the four South American republics where its’ boundaries lie has been a struggle. It is a conflict akin to finding a needle in a haystack, and this ‘said’ needle is vital for continued life on planet Earth. The world’s rainforests serve as carbon warehouses, producing significant amounts of oxygen, thereby regulating global weather by buffering against floods and droughts.
In Brazil, the Amazon’s destruction has reached an all-time low. This record ‘low’, in the last 24 years since Brazil has been monitoring deforestation, has been achieved with decreases in states where rampant destruction has historically taken place (44% in Parra and 31% in Mato Grosso). These decreases are offset by increases in the states of Acre (10%), Amazonas (29%), and Tocatins (33%). Primary causes of deforestation in the Amazon are: trafficking in timber and minerals, which is illegal, fires, and the increased adoption of agriculture and breeding livestock.
Successful decreases in the Amazon’s deforestation have been obtained in Brazil as a result of strict environmental policing deterring aggressive development. Measures taken to protect the forest have not been exclusively punitive. Pro-active educational measures have shared information with cultures, living in the forest, about alternative means to make a living.Rainforest Partnership’s successful eco-tourism venture in the Pampa Hermosa Region in Peru is an example of communities taking action to preserve their local rainforest due to pro-active educational efforts.
Rainforest Partnership has established a three-way partnership between the communities of San Antonio and Calabaza, in the Pampa Hermosa Region of Peru, and the University of Central Peru to preserve 15,000 acres of the local Colibri Cloudforest and instead, develop infrastructure, sustaining eco-tourism. Since 2008, Rainforest Partnership has been in dialogue with the communities while providing financial, legal, and educational support towards various projects. In 2009, the first steps were taken when approximately 150 residents in San Antonio and Calabaza took action to cease collection of butterflies and orchids, the hunting of birds and bears, the extraction of wood, and the cutting and burning of forests for pastureland.
Historically, families in these communities have generated income by knitting small crafts and cultivating coffee and potatoes on plots of land near their homes. If crops were unsuccessful, adjacent land was converted from rainforest to pasture in order to plant new crops. As a result of financial support, buildings have been renovated, painted, and furnished, trails have been created, and a waste-management and collection programs have been initiated. As a result of education efforts, the communities have built compost pits for recycling organic materials, plastic is collected for recycling, which keeps the communities clean, women in the communities are learning about healthy kitchens, diversified cooking, and sanitary conditions when cooking, and residents are being taught how to manage a hostel, eco-lodge, and how to work as tour guides.
Peru, is not the only republic where Rainforest Partnership is providing support to preserve the Amazon. Since 2010, in Ecuador, Rainforest Partnership has been supporting women of the Sani Isla community to develop an Artisan Craft Business instead of choosing means to generate income that results in deforestation.
The success of Rainforest Partnership’s ‘collaborative, bottom-up, and results driven projects’ provide not only ideas but success stories of how solutions, can be not only sustainable, environmentally but economically. The world shares in the responsibility of finding the lone needle in the haystack, somewhere yet everywhere, given the confluence of variables affecting the world’s CO2 levels. We do not have the luxury of being able to wait to act anymore. We must do our part and take action, now.