Eye on the Amazon

How to Stop Deforestation in the Amazon? Empower Indigenous Peoples

Photo Credit: CIFOR/Flickr Creative Commons

How does our work seek to stop deforestation as it relates to animal agriculture every day?

Recently, questions have arisen about how Amazon Watch works to stop deforestation, and we'd like to take a moment to clarify our strategic approach to this vast problem and acknowledge that our programmatic strategy indeed addresses the heart of this issue.

Amazon Watch fundamentally believes that all industries and governments responsible for destroying the planet should be held accountable for their unmitigated actions. Animal agriculture has a huge environmental and climate impact and is one of many contributors to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and must be addressed. But it's not the only factor causing deforestation in the Amazon – industrial development in the region includes oil and gas extraction, mining, and mega-dam construction. Projects like these involve the construction of roads, which are gateways for expanded rainforest destruction.

Amazon Watch works strategically to stop deforestation through supporting Indigenous rights. Leading researchers including the World Resources Institute acknowledge that involving Indigenous peoples in land management and recognizing their land rights provides one of the most effective strategies for stopping deforestation. In fact, in Brazil alone, deforestation rates within community protected forests are 11 times lower than in other areas. This is a primary reason why Amazon Watch works in long-term partnership with Indigenous peoples to strengthen their capacity to advocate for their rights and protect their ancestral territories.

By supporting Indigenous peoples, Amazon Watch works directly to challenge the underlying drivers of deforestation.

There are many threats to the Amazon rainforest. All of these corporate industrial developments have compound effects on the Amazonian territories and communities. Ceasing industrial development is a necessary step in preventing deforestation from cattle ranching because industrial development opens access to land for pastures via road construction, according to Global Forest Watch. In fact, 95% of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon occurs on land less than five kilometers from a road, according to a study in the journal Biological Conservation. Therefore, stopping road construction that enables access stops deforestation, especially for livestock purposes. Obviously, protecting the Amazon region requires an extremely strategic, multifaceted plan as the many variables contributing towards its destruction are complex.

While animal agriculture is a major contributing factor to environmental destruction and climate change, studies show that the key to ceasing deforestation in the Amazon is ending the construction of roads. Amazon Watch continues to challenge government and corporate "development" policies and mega-projects that promote the construction of roads, thereby curbing deforestation for agricultural purposes.

We believe that the only way to truly solve the climate crisis is through a collective effort comprised of a diversity of strategies from all fronts. This includes uniting with other organizations, institutions and individuals on the frontlines in a coordinated effort to protect our planet. Supporting Indigenous peoples and empowering them with legal rights to their ancestral territories is a proven way to help protect the Amazon. While we encourage our supporters to examine their daily habits and to take actions such as questioning which corporations and industries you choose to give your money to, our organization's strategic approach towards empowering Indigenous peoples is an imperative piece of the puzzle when we talk about defending the rainforest and seeking solutions to climate change.

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