The Amazon rainforest is reaching tipping points that will have global impacts and threaten the conservation and sustainable development of the region. The SPA proposes investments in ‘arcs of restoration’ and Indigenous territories to address these challenges.
Sharm El-Sheikh (November 15, 2022) – The Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA) hosted an event at COP27 for the launch of the SPA’s most recent policy briefs: “A call for global action to move the Amazon rainforest system away from tipping points”; “Transforming the Amazon through ‘Arcs of Restoration’”; and “The role of Amazonian Indigenous Peoples in fighting the climate crisis”. The event was held on November 15th in the Hub Amazônia Legal in the blue zone. Speakers included Carlos Nobre (Co-Chair of the SPA and Lead Author), Jos Barlow (Lead Author), Ane Alencar (Author), and Belén Paez (SPA Member). Roberto Waack, Chairman of the Board of Arapyaú Institute, moderated the event. These reports distill critical scientific findings in response to emerging priority policy-relevant issues, improve science-policy linkages to facilitate evidence-based decision-making, and promote the integration of Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ knowledge with scientific research for a sustainable Amazon. These policy briefs align with COP27’s mission to accelerate global climate action through emissions reduction, scaled-up resilience, adaptation efforts, and enhanced financing flows while recognizing that ‘just and equitable transition’ is a priority for the Amazon. The SPA, which launched the landmark 2021 Amazon Assessment Report at COP26 in Glasgow, is a key point of reference on the Amazon. Scientists have growing acceptance that the Amazon is facing unprecedented challenges and could soon pass tipping points beyond which recovery may be impossible. Crossing these thresholds would have devastating socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental effects, both locally and globally, including impacts on agriculture and urban water supplies and significant threats to protecting biodiversity.
To achieve the targets set in the Paris Climate Agreement, total emissions should be kept at 400 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. For this reason, on the occasion of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Science Panel for the Amazon urges decision makers to act now and invest in the region, promoting science-based solutions to accelerate global efforts to conserve and advance sustainable development in the Amazon.
The latest SPA policy briefs outline the following key recommendations:
● Immediate moratorium on deforestation and degradation across all the Amazon, particularly in areas more likely to cross a tipping point (e.g., Southern-Southeastern Amazon), Protected Areas and Indigenous Territories (ITs); and zero deforestation by 2030. Mechanisms that offer financial compensation for reductions in deforestation and forest degradation can improve the conservation of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services, while also creating large-scale economic opportunities.
● Public forestlands not allocated by national or state governments for its use by society should be urgently designated as no-go areas with a moratorium on logging activities, or areas under sustainable management, in order to curb illegal activities, such as land grabbing, logging, and mining.
● Restore forests in undesignated lands. Over 2.8 M ha of forest have been cleared from undesignated public lands in the Brazilian Amazon alone. Much of that clearance has occurred recently, and even a narrow focus on areas cleared since 2015 would provide over 1.8 M ha for large-scale passive restoration.
● Restore forests in protected areas. Deforestation in protected areas and Indigenous Territories has increased markedly in recent years. Focusing restoration efforts on the areas that were felled since 2015 would provide over 0.8 M ha for restoration, with diverse high-carbon forests returning without the need for expensive tree planting
● Sustainable restoration of degraded farmland. Restoration practices could be applied to c. 24 M ha of moderately or severely degraded pastures that exist across the Brazilian Amazon, with further opportunities in other Amazonian countries. Degraded pastures generate little income and could be significantly improved by incorporating soil conservation measures and silvi-pastoral approaches, forestry systems, and agroforestry.
● Local management and the meaningful engagement of local communities is critical to the development of sustainable value chains for products from the Amazon forest. These activities can only realize their full potential with investment in education and science that combines traditional knowledge and technological innovation, and the creation of centers of excellence in the bioeconomy.
● Support and recognize Indigenous lands rights through titling or other law-based recognition processes and ensure that climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies are not oversimplified, focusing on carbon stocks and emissions at the expense of ecosystem and societal benefits. This is important because Indigenous Territories (ITs) in the Amazon protect approximately 24.5 GtC aboveground, act as significant barriers to deforestation and forest degradation, and serve as an important buffer against climate change. Demarcated ITs have significantly less deforestation than unrecognized lands, demonstrating the importance of demarcating ITs.
● Provide technical and financial support for the implementation of IPLCs’ territorial management and conservation strategies. This includes recognition, protection, and financial mechanisms to support Indigenous languages, traditions, and cultures.
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For more information, please visit:
SPA Executive Summary
The SPA Amazon Assessment Report
The Science Panel for the Amazon
Policy Brief: A call for global action to move the Amazon forest system away from tipping points
Policy Brief: Transforming the Amazon through ‘Arcs of Restoration’
Policy Brief: The role of Amazonian Indigenous peoples in fighting the climate crisis