The Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative

The Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative is building a shared vision among Indigenous peoples, NGOs, the philanthropic community, social entrepreneurs, and governments towards establishing a bi-national protected region – off-limits to industrial-scale resource extraction and governed in accordance with traditional Indigenous principles of cooperation and harmony that foster a mutually-enhancing human-Earth relationship.

We call for support for our initiative and vision, which is rooted in Indigenous cosmology and seeks in its initial phase to permanently protect 74 million acres (30 million hectares) of tropical rainforests in the headwaters the mighty Amazon River – the Napo, Pastaza, and Marañon River Basins of Ecuador and Peru, an area referred to as the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon: Territories for Life.

The Initiative is led by Amazonian Indigenous federations CONFENIAE (Ecuador), AIDESEP (Peru), ORPIO, and COICA, in partnership with Pachamama Alliance, Amazon Watch, Fundación Pachamama, and


During this early stage of the Initiative, priorities include:

  • Resisting expansion of extractive industries including oil and mining and related infrastructure in the region
  • Strong regional alliance of key stakeholders – Indigenous peoples, governments, civil society – aligned around a shared vision for the protection of the Sacred Headwaters region
  • Completing a regional ecological economic plan for the Sacred Headwaters that is grounded in the principles of ecological stewardship and community well-being
  • Developing conservation funding solutions that advance protections for the living forests and halt expansion of large-scale extractive industries

This Initiative offers an exceptional opportunity to create and demonstrate a new ecologic-economic model to usher in the post-carbon era – one that both safeguards the vital heart of our Earth’s biosphere and enhances human wellbeing.


The Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative seeks to forge a new, post-carbon model for the region, off-limits to industrial-scale resource extraction and where fossil fuels are left in the ground.

The Initiative offers a multi-faceted strategy on climate change through working to:

  • Protect Indigenous territories in the region that encompasses a continuous mosaic of 74 million acres (30 million hectares) of rainforest and contains some 3.8 billion metric tons of carbon (on average 66 metric tons of carbon/acre of forest).
  • Advance Indigenous forest stewardship of these lands as the most effective strategy to protect the rainforest and avoid significant emissions from unchecked deforestation.
  • Forge a sustainable path that keeps undeveloped fossil fuel reserves in the ground, starting with the Sacred Headwaters. This would result in the avoidance of some 1.9 billion metric tons of C02 emissions.



Yes, I will donate to protect the Amazon!

"The work you do is vital, and I am happy to support it."
– Charlotte R. A.


The Amazon Is in Crisis

The survival of the Amazon and its Indigenous inhabitants depends on what we do together now. Every dollar you donate goes directly to our program work, and every little bit helps!