The Amazon Forest is the most biodiverse region on earth and is central in the struggle to conserve biodiversity and control global warming. Biodiversity is not homogeneously distributed in the region, but concentrated within areas of endemism (AOE) that vary in size, degree of deforestation and human pressure. Unfortunately, these differences have not been used to guide governmental policies, land occupation and conservation. Instead, a violent occupation process started 40 years ago and marked by a frontier economy pattern is still under way. To change this course and truly promote a sustainable development mode in the Amazon region, we argue that an ambitious plan that includes completely halting illegal deforestation is needed. This plan should start by resolving land tenure issues and correctly assigning specific land uses. The three major land-use types in the region include protected areas (49% of the region), unprotected forests (39%) and altered lands (12-17%). Changing the current model of development implies shifting future uses and increasing support for these areas. This translates into three major goals: (1) adequately maintaining the integrity of the current protected areas, (2) protecting unprotected forests and (3) promoting higher productivity in deforested areas. The proportion of land-use types directed to each of these goals will depend on local socio-economic needs and conservation status, but must consider the AOE where it is present. Regional biodiversity corridors for each AOE should be planned and integrated into a large, Pan-Amazon biodiversity corridor to maintain the equilibrium of climatic and hydrological cycles. Politically, this corridor should aim at the integration of development and conservation plans beyond each country's boundary, minimizing impacts of infrastructure development and maximizing social and environmental benefits.
- Amazon forest
- Sustainable development
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science