Amazon: world’s largest tropical rain forest and river basin

As a part of a series, we will introduce you to some of the most important tropical rainforests and highlight why they need your attention.

Part 1: Amazon

The Amazon is a vast region that spans the border of eight rapidly developing countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, an overseas territory of France.

The landscape contains:

> One in ten known species on Earth
> 1.4 billion acres of dense forests, half of the planet’s remaining tropical forests
> 4,100 miles of winding rivers
> 2.6 million square miles, about 40 percent of South America, in the Amazon Basin

There is a clear link between the health of the Amazon and the health of the planet. The rain forests, which contain 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, help stabilize local and global climate.

Unfortunately, deforestation may release significant amounts of this carbon, which could have catastrophic consequences around the world.

Protecting and conserving the Amazon, a place two-thirds the size of the U.S., is a big job. WWF has been working in the Amazon for 40 years and is at the forefront of efforts to protect the forests, species and people that call it home. They engage local communities and partner with governments to identify solutions that bridge the needs of economic development and conservation.

Threats: The Amazon is systematically being torn down and devalued for short term gains. Unsustainable expansion of agriculture and cattle ranching, construction of roads and dams, and extractive activities including illegal logging and climate change are the biggest drivers of deforestation and river degradation. At current deforestation rates, 55% of the Amazon’s rainforests could be gone by 2030. Learn more

Species: 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species and more than 370 reptile species exist in the Amazon. It is one of the world’s last refuges for jaguars, harpy eagles and pink dolphins and home to many birds and butterflies. Thousands of tree-dwelling species including southern two-toed sloths, pygmy marmosets, saddleback and emperor tamarins and Goeldi’s monkeys are found here too. Learn more

People: More than 30 million people from 350 indigenous and ethnic groups live in the Amazon and depend on nature for agriculture, clothing and traditional medicines. Most live in large urban centers, but all residents rely on the Amazon’s natural bounty for food, shelter and livelihoods. Learn more

As a part of this effort, on behalf of WWF Switzerland, Ennovent is managing the Tropical Forest Challenge - A search for the most innovative for-profit solutions from around the world to conserve tropical forest biodiversity.

Learn more about the Congo Basin in the next series.

This content appeared originally on the WWF website.
Image Courtesy: WWF

 

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