Protected areas, along with indigenous territories and other community conserved areas, are the best-known mechanism to conserve ecosystems for people and the planet. By 2013, the area under protection in the Amazon was significant, with 390 protected areas, representing 25 per cent of the Amazon Biome, totalling some 167 million hectares. The primary role of indigenous territories is securing indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral lands but they have also proven to be effective in conserving forests. In 2010, there were more than 3,000 indigenous territories and similar areas within the Amazon, covering a total of roughly 208 million hectares, representing 31% of the Amazon.
The pace of protected areas designation has declined since the end of the last decade, and since 2009 has been almost flat. Increasing pressures means there are still attempts to reduce or degrade some of the areas that have been set aside, highlighting the need for strong policies and effective management.
WWF’s goal is that by 2020, protected areas and indigenous territories are fully integrated into the region’s development agenda, ensuring ecological representation and ecosystem connectivity while maintaining and valuing the indispensable environmental, social and cultural values they provide.