Saving the Amazon

Geographical location:

Latin America/Caribbean > South America > Brazil

Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA)
© WWF Brazil


Described by many as the “lungs of the world”, the Amazon rainforest is severely threatened. Uncontrolled logging and development continue to contribute to rapid deforestation. WWF data shows that the greatest rate of deforestation is occurring in areas with rich animal and plant species.

WWF has a strong presence in the Amazon, promoting solutions for wildlife protection, sustainable management of natural resources to improve conditions for the people who rely on them. It is also looking to create and expand protected areas that are representative of the region’s unique biodiversity.


Described by many as the ‘world’s lungs’, it seems inconceivable that this jewel of the natural world could ever be lost. However, uncontrolled logging and development continue to contribute to the devastating deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon forest.

The 2003 satellite survey by Brazil’s National Space Sciences Institute revealed that deforestation matched that of the previous year. An area equivalent to half of Switzerland disappeared in the year to August 2003, primarily because of cattle ranching and agriculture.

WWF data show that the greatest rate of deforestation is occurring in those very areas identified as key to the conservation of species in the Amazon. One such designated area has disappeared; 5 others have lost half of their forest cover.

Geographically the project focuses on the state of Acre because of the favourable political situation. WWF will work with the state government and NGOs to implement comprehensive regional planning for conservation, develop model projects focusing on timber and extraction, and provide training, institutional support and environmental education.


1. Consolidate a network of protected areas that is representative of the region’s biodiversity.

2. Promote sustainable use of natural resources in order to provide incentives to maintain the natural habitat.

3. Promote the sustainability of the programme itself through communication and education.

4. Influence regional development policy to incorporate environmental concerns.


Working with the World Bank, WWF’s ecoregion approach will address 3 targets: new protected areas; improved implementation of existing protected areas; and certification of timber management.

The Acre government is committed to the development of a comprehensive development strategy, including extraction, sustainable resource management and an engaged citizenry. Initially they will focus on a zoning process. Acre has invited WWF to be a key partner in sustainable development generally and zoning specifically. Work is already underway to define roles.

Regionally, WWF continues its work with the governments of Brazil, Peru and Bolivia to coordinate efforts and methodology for the Southwestern Amazon ecoregion as a whole.

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