Public Consultation on the Draft Report of the Science Panel for the Amazon (2021)

In response to the challenges facing the Amazon, a group of over 200 preeminent scientists from the region have united to form the Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA). The Panel is convened by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and will issue a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind scientific assessment of the state of the Amazon, current trends, and recommendations for the long-term well-being of the ecosystem and its people.

This version of the document has been released for public consultation. We encourage stakeholders to provide meaningful input to aid the development of a better and more complete report.

We invite feedback on how the content can be improved from individuals and organizations, from all sectors including government, companies, academia, civil society, and international organizations. You may provide feedback on as many or as few chapters as you wish. Feedback should be submitted via our feedback form (also embedded at the bottom of this page; can be filled in English, Español, o Portuguese); deadlines are indicated below for each chapter. We will not be able to respond individually to all comments, but we will post a summary of the comments received and the organization(s) and individual(s) represented on the report website.

These chapters benefitted from a rigorous peer review process prior to posting. Invaluable comments were received and addressed, and the Reviewers were crucial to ensuring a careful, balanced, and comprehensive assessment. They will be acknowledged by name alongside other vital contributors (including the participants in the public consultation) in the final version of the Report.

In particular, we encourage comments on: (I) issues that are missing or insufficiently dealt with, (II) errors in data or statistics, (III) areas where more recent data is available, (IV) inclusion of missing perspectives.

Chapters Available for Public Consultation


Part I: The Amazon as a Regional Entity of the Earth System


Chapter 1: Geology and geodiversity of the Amazon: Three billion years of history

This chapter explores how geodiversity evolved over three billion years of history. It shows that periods of continental breakup followed by mountain building ultimately led to the fundamental physiographic subdivisions of the Amazon, and a wealth of landscapes, soils, ore deposits, oil and gas reserves, and freshwater aquifers. Data on the Amazon’s geodiversity support a central theme of the environmental sciences, that the formation of most natural resources (like rare-earth ores, hydrocarbons, freshwater aquifers, and fertile soils) requires natural processes to operate undisturbed over immense periods of geological time and across broad spatial domains.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 25, 2021


Chapter 2: Evolution of Amazonian biodiversity

This chapter reviews the evolutionary history of the Amazon’s terrestrial and riverine ecosystems, involving geological and climatic events operating over millions of years and across the whole of continental South America. The chapter discusses the important roles of geographic barriers, habitat heterogeneity, climate change, and species interactions in generating and maintaining the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. This unique history produced heterogeneous environments and diverse habitats at multiple geographic scales, which altered the connections between populations and allowed for the accumulation of the most diverse biota on Earth.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 22, 2021


Chapter 3: Biological diversity and ecological networks in the Amazon

This chapter provides an overview of biodiversity in the Amazon, discusses the reasons why this region is so rich in species and ecosystems, and outlines some outstanding ecological processes that make the Amazon an icon of the natural world. Featured terrestrial and aquatic taxonomic groups illustrate how much we know about diversity in the Amazon, and more importantly, how much we still do not know. A clear understanding of biodiversity levels and their spatial and temporal variations is crucial to understanding future stability under different climate change, land use change, forest fragmentation, and deforestation scenarios and informing conservation and restoration efforts.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 25, 2021


Chapter 4: Amazonian ecosystems and their ecological functions

This chapter describes the diversity of plants and ecosystems in the lowland Amazon and discusses how complex regional gradients in climate and soil conditions drive regional variability in species composition, vegetation dynamics, carbon stocks, and productivity. The Amazon river network and its role in connecting aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through organisms and nutrient exchanges is also emphasized.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 22, 2021


Chapter 5: The Physical hydroclimate system of the Amazon

This chapter reviews the main features and large- to mesoscale mechanisms that contribute to the Amazon’s climate, its inter-annual and inter-decadal variability, and extreme drought and flood events. It examines the effects of extreme events on vegetation and the partitioning of precipitation into evapotranspiration (ET), runoff, flow seasonality, and floodplain dynamics; and describes the floodplain´s role in the biogeochemical cycle.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 25, 2021


Chapter 6: Biogeochemical Cycles in the Amazon

This chapter summarizes the cycles of three key biogeochemical elements, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, with a focus on carbon, spanning both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in Amazon. The chapter also examines the emissions of two key trace gases which make substantial contributions to radiative warming, methane and dinitrogen oxide, and summarizes trace gas and aerosol emissions from the Amazon and their impact on atmospheric pollution, cloud properties, and water cycling.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 25, 2021


Chapter 7: Biogeophysical Cycles: Water Recycling, Climate Regulation

This chapter assesses biogeophysical interactions between the Amazon rainforest and the climate. A historical perspective is presented, highlighting breakthroughs which improved our understanding of the mechanisms by which the rainforest interacts with the atmosphere.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 25, 2021


Chapter 8: Peoples of the Amazon before European Colonization

Archaeology tells us how Indigenous peoples transformed nature in the Amazon over the millennia to the point that it is difficult to separate natural from cultural patrimony there today. It also shows that any kind of sustainable future for the region has to consider the rich Indigenous heritage manifested in archaeological sites and contemporary landscapes, and the contemporary knowledge of traditional societies.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 31, 2021


Chapter 9: Peoples of the Amazon and European colonization (16th-18th centuries)

This chapter covers the history of the Amazon between the 16th and 18th centuries, including myths that originated at that time and persist into the present, influencing political and social relations. It also highlights the main actors involved in this process and their narratives. Finally, it shows how the extraction of natural resources has been accompanied by the subjugation and exploitation of the workforce and the development of multiple forms of domination and extermination, especially of Indigenous peoples, since the era of European conquest.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 31, 2021


Chapter 10: Critical interconnections between the cultural and biological diversity of Amazonian peoples and ecosystems

This chapter explores the Amazon’s biocultural diversity, focusing on IPLCs’ worldviews, knowledge systems, livelihood strategies, and governance regimes. It synthesizes the main social and political processes that have led to the formal recognition of IPLCs’ lands and/or territories across the Amazon. The chapter highlights IPLCs’ critical role in using, shaping, conserving, and restoring Amazonian ecosystems and biodiversity, despite historic ongoing processes including violence, displacement, and conflicts between conservation and development agendas.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 31, 2021


Chapter 11: Economic drivers in the Amazon from the 19th century to the 1970s

This chapter identifies the main economic processes that occurred in the Brazilian, Andean, and Guyanese Amazon from the 19th century until the 1970s. Specifically, the chapter describes the history of extractivism and the effects of geopolitical reconfiguration on the Amazon after the process of emancipation or decolonization. It analyzes the extraction of quina barks (species of the genus Chinchona, Rubiaceae) and rubber (Hevea brasiliensis, Euphorbiacae), as well as the resulting characteristics and practices developed by social actors related to the local and regional economy. It also describes the history and emergence of exploitation of oil and minerals (mainly gold), including the beginning of wildlife trafficking and the emergence of mechanized agriculture, intensive livestock, and mega-infrastructure.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 31, 2021


Chapter 12: Languages of the Amazon: Dimensions of diversity

This chapter covers the extraordinary Indigenous linguistic diversity of the Amazon region, including its different dimensions: the existence of a relatively large number of languages in the region; how these languages are related to each other, representing an impressive genealogical diversity; geographical distribution over different Amazonian subregions; the effects of language contact that have resulted in several linguistic areas; different levels of endangerment and the social circumstances that contribute to it; and, finally, what is lost when languages disappear.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 29, 2021

Em Português


Chapter 13: African Presence in the Amazon: A Glance

This chapter provides evidence on the importance of African descendants in the construction of the Amazon and other tropical areas in the Americas, and highlights their importance for long-lasting sustainable development strategies in the region. It looks at both the cultural exchange and socio-historic perspectives, emphasizing land settlement patterns, natural resource use, and management practices. It focuses mostly on Brazil, Suriname, and Colombia, and emphasizes the importance of eliminating the invisibility of African descendant peoples in academic research and policy.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 28, 2021


Part II: Anthropogenic changes in the Amazon: Land Use, Climate and Demographic Changes in the Amazon and Their Impacts on Biodiversity, Ecological Processes, Ecosystem Services
and Human Well-being


Chapter 14: Amazon in Motion: Changing politics, development strategies, peoples, landscapes, and livelihoods

This chapter presents the major ideas, actors, and practices that have shaped the Amazon’s current development and deforestation dynamics. Outlining general periods of macro policy, it traces the evolution of today’s complex interactions among diverse livelihoods, conservation, and production systems, both legal and clandestine. It highlights how Amazonians have continuously adapted to changing circumstances while fighting to advance their own proposals for conservation and equity in development.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 28, 2021


Chapter 15: Complex, diverse, and changing agribusiness and livelihood systems in the Amazon

This chapter focuses on recent changes in the structure of systems of production in the Amazon, exploring their implications for the region’s environment and society. It also highlights local responses to these challenges, and opportunities for more sustainable production systems. An in-depth quantitative case study on the Brazilian Amazon is presented.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 29, 2021


Chapter 16: The state of conservation policies, protected areas, and Indigenous territories, from the past to the present

Two management classifications are the cornerstone of Amazonian conservation: protected areas and Indigenous territories. This chapter focuses on the historical processes, starting in the 1960s, that led to their creation, as well as the contemporary challenges they face and their importance for conservation.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 14, 2021


Chapter 17: Globalization, extractivism and social exclusion: Threats and opportunities to Amazon governance in Brazil

From the 1970s on, the Amazon experienced its deepest transformation, becoming a commodity and energy provider for both domestic and international markets, through extraction of natural resources. Living conditions barely improved, and social conflict and violence became widespread, particularly affecting Indigenous peoples and local communities. Conservation efforts also became globalized and achieved significant results. Brazil’s 84% reduction in deforestation from 2005-2012, based on an integrated strategy with high political priority, provides an important case study that can support future policies across the basin. These gains were reversed in recent years, and unsustainable extractivist policies generally prevailed over conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity in the whole Amazon basin (Chapter 18).

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 14, 2021


Chapter 18: Globalization, extractivism, and social exclusion: Country-specific manifestations

This chapter presents country-specific descriptions of human intervention in the Amazon, including the expansion of agricultural and extractive activities. The analysis contains two comprehensive national cases (Colombia and Ecuador) and three short studies focused on public policies (Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela). The Brazilian experience reducing deforestation is presented in Chapter 17.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 14, 2021


Chapter 19: Drivers and ecological impacts of deforestation and forest degradation

This chapter discusses the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the Amazon, particularly agricultural expansion, road construction, mining, oil and gas development, forest fires, edge effects, logging, and hunting. It also examines these activities’ impacts and synergies between them.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 15, 2021


Chapter 20: Drivers and impacts of changes in aquatic ecosystems

Amazonian aquatic ecosystems are being destroyed and threats to their integrity are projected to grow in number and intensity. Here we present some of the main impacts on aquatic ecosystems triggered by infrastructure projects and predatory and illegal practices.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 14, 2021


Chapter 21: Human well-being and health impacts of the degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems

Amazonian forests and aquatic ecosystems are the basis for several ecosystem services, all of which play a crucial role in people’s livelihoods, human well-being, and health. Some of the most relevant and challenging health problems in the Amazon are associated with deforestation and degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including the risk of contracting infectious diseases, respiratory problems caused by exposure to smoke from deforestation and forest fires, and mercury contamination caused by gold mining. Here we demonstrate that environmental degradation affects the health of millions of Amazonians.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 14, 2021

Em Português


Chapter 22: Long-term variability, extremes, and changes in temperature and hydro meteorology

This chapter describes the observed and projected changes in temperature, river discharge, and precipitation patterns and extremes in the Amazon region, as well as their impacts and possible thresholds. The emphasis is on the effect of climactic extremes on biodiversity and ecological processes.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 28, 2021

Em Português


Chapter 23: Impacts of deforestation and climate change on biodiversity, ecological processes, and environmental adaptation

This chapter presents observed and predicted impacts of climate change on Amazonian ecosystems, focusing on biodiversity, ecosystem services, carbon cycling, fisheries, and emissions from biomass burning. It also considers climate and land-use change feedbacks and highlights knowledge gaps to better understand these complex interactions.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 31, 2021


Chapter 24: Resilience of the Amazon forest to global changes: Assessing the risk of tipping points

This chapter reviews and discusses existing evidence of ongoing changes in the Amazon forest system that may lead to resilience loss and the potential to cross tipping points in which the ecosystem may shift either gradually or abruptly to a persistent, environmentally degraded configuration.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 27, 2021


Box on Crosscutting Issues: The Amazon Carbon Budget

The main objective of this cross-chapter box is to summarize sinks and sources of carbon in Amazon, answering the important question: Is the Amazon a carbon sink or carbon source to the atmosphere? Several key studies discussed in other SPA chapters are included, both bottom-up (e.g., when changes in biomass are measured in the field, then extrapolated to the region via model parametrization) and top-down (e.g., when gas concentration or biomass changes are measured from satellite, aircraft or airborne sensors) studies are included.

Download Box Consultation Deadline: August 31, 2021


Part III: The Solution Space: Finding Sustainable Pathways for the Amazon


Chapter 25: A Pan-Amazonian sustainable development vision

Developing a clear vision is the central starting point for any action plan. This chapter reviews the main visions regarding the Amazon and proposes a Living Amazon Vision based on a set of values, principles, and knowledge systems described throughout the chapter.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 28, 2021


Chapter 26: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Amazon

This chapter discusses the importance and limitations of the five SDG dimensions (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership) in the Amazonian context. It also discusses the performance and trends of Amazonian countries in achieving the SDGs.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 31, 2021


Chapter 27: Conservation measures to counter the main threats to Amazonian biodiversity

Human activities destroy biodiversity and disrupt the functioning of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems at different levels. This chapter provides sustainable approaches to address some of the biggest threats to the Amazon’s biodiversity and ecosystems, i.e., deforestation, damming of rivers, mining, hunting, illegal trade including drug production and trafficking, illegal logging, overfishing, and infrastructure.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 27, 2021

Em Português


Chapter 28: Restoration options for the Amazon

This chapter examines opportunities and approaches for the restoration of terrestrial and aquatic systems, focusing on local benefits.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 27, 2021

Em Português


Chapter 29: Restoration priorities and benefits within landscapes and catchments and across the Amazon basin

Restoration can be applied in many different Amazonian contexts, but will be most effective at leveraging environmental and social benefits when it is prioritized across the Amazon basin, landscapes, and catchments. Here we outline the considerations that are most relevant for planning and scaling restoration across the Amazon.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 28, 2021

Em Português


Chapter 30: The new bioeconomy in the Amazon: Opportunities and challenges for a healthy stand-ing forest and flowing rivers

This chapter highlights the paradox between the Amazon’s extraordinary socio-biodiversity and its distance from the scientific, technological, and market frontier of the contemporary bioeconomy. It discusses the current socioeconomic structures available in the region, as well as challenges and pathways for a transition to a socially-fair and sustainable bioeconomy.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 31, 2021


Chapter 31: Strengthening land and natural resource governance and management: Protected areas, Indigenous lands, and local communities’ territories

Protected areas, Indigenous lands, and local communities’ territories play a critical role in holding back deforestation, maintaining regional and global climate stability, and – above all – protecting land rights. Nevertheless, these lands are currently threatened by political and economic interests that drive land speculation, agribusiness expansion, and illegal logging and mining, resulting in increasing deforestation rates. Governments are also reassessing and walking back territorial rights legislation.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 21, 2021

Em Português


Chapter 32: Milestones and challenges in the construction and expansion of participatory intercultural education in the Amazon

This chapter aims to give visibility to participatory intercultural education experiences across the Amazon region. It starts with an examination of the issues with the general educational system, and then presents case studies which offer different paths forward. These case studies reflect not only the importance of participatory education for IPLCs, but also how knowledge is itself a form of communication and political influence that helps IPLCs guarantee their rights.

In addition to comments on the chapter, the authors are also soliciting submissions of case-studies and examples of experiences in intercultural education and capacity building. If you have an experience to share, please submit it through this form.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 25, 2021

This chapter will also be available shortly in Portuguese!


Chapter 33: Connecting and sharing diverse knowledges to support sustainable pathways in the Amazon

This chapter highlights the under-recognized importance of ILK to conservation and sustainable development efforts across the Amazon, utilizing the conceptual framework of public participation in scientific research. It reviews a range of illustrative examples which articulate ILK and mainstream scientific and technical knowledges in conservation and development initiatives. We also consider recent policy recommendations and guidelines by professional associations and civil society organizations.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 14, 2021


Chapter 34: Boosting relations between the Amazon forest and its globalizing cities

By providing a brief and non-authoritative analysis of the physical and cultural relations between rural (forest) and urban areas in the Amazon, we identify several points for improvement, such as economic incentives to encourage healthcare professionals to serve the countryside, implementing peri-urban agricultural belts to improve urban food security, increasing access to urban green spaces, and investing in innovation around the “smart cities, smart forests” concept. Perhaps most importantly, this would include mobilizing human, financial, and institutional resources to restore cultural, spiritual, and affective bonds between urban and forest inhabitants.

Download Chapter Consultation Deadline: August 21, 2021

Em Português

Please fill in the following form to submit your feedback to the authors!

Please direct any questions to SPA@unsdsn.org.