Amazon forests at a cross road

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RegIonAl And loCAl exAmPles oF FoRest RelAted ChAllenges And oPPoRtunItIes

15 Amazon Forests at the Crossroads: Pressures, Responses and Challenges
Convening lead author: Wil de Jong Lead authors: Jan Borner, Pablo Pacheco, Benno Pokorny and César Sabogal Contributing authors: Charlotte Benneker, Walter Cano, Carlos Cornejo, Kristen Evans, Sergio Ruiz and Mario Zenteno
Abstract: The Amazonbasin and its rich forest has inspired much debate about its natural treasures, potential for economic development and the rights of its populations to exclusive benefits.This debate started in the 1970s and has continued ever since.The chapter points to some of the current key social, occupational and political dynamics in the region and reviews the prime threats affecting Amazon forests andlivelihoods. Among these are cattle ranching, soybean production, logging, infrastructure expansion, and the oil and gas industry.These sectors have changed over the years and have adapted to a new economic, political and social climate. The chapter subsequently reviews a series of more recent responses to these threats. Important progress has been made in institutional overhaul, land tenure reform,decentralized government and deregulation and incentives to support sustainable forest use, in particular the newly emerging REDD initiatives. The final part of the chapter provides a balanced assessment of conflicting interests, persisting threats and response options that have achieved positive outcomes suggesting that both old and new challenges require innovative policy action. Keywords: cattleranching, decentralization, deregulation, forest devolution, forestry industry, forest policy, infrastructure expansion, land use change, population dynamics, soybean production ■

15.1 Introduction
The Amazon basin covers 6.5 million km2, of which 5.5 million km2 are forests. The population of the “greater Amazon”, the area that covers the Amazon watershed and its contiguous area of influence,is estimated at 33.5 million inhabitants 1), of which 21 million live in cities (UNEP 2009). The forested part of the region is national territory to nine countries. 2)

The UNEP (2009) population actually provides two different figures for the Greater Amazon population: 38.7 million (p. 67) and 33.5 million (p. 176).
1) 2)

Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru,Surinam, and Venezuela. All these countries, except French Guyana, are members of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization.

This shared territory, furthermore, has multiple vegetation types, including rainforest, flooded forest, seasonal forest, deciduous forest, and savannahs. Today, many people depend on these forests for their livelihoods and evidence of ancient settlements reflected incontemporary vegetation features suggests that this has also been true historically (Balee 1999). The Amazon forests are recognised for their importance as carbon stocks and for their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions through ongoing deforestation. The same forests constitute a global repository of biodiversity, and other above and below ground natural resources, like minerals and fossil fuels.A significant number of people depend on these forests for their livelihoods. In many parts of the basin, evidence of ancient settlements has been found that is reflected in contemporary vegetation features (e.g., Balee 1999). The region is of much interest to national governments for national development

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FORESTS AND SOCIETY – RESPONDING TO GLOBAL DRIVERS OF CHANGE

15 AmAzON FORESTSAT THE CROSSROADS: PRESSuRES, RESPONSES, AND CHALLENGES

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objectives, and to the private sector for business opportunities. Each of the Amazonian countries has its own set of interests that do not necessarily coincide with the interests of neighbours. There is a renewed and urgent concern about the future of the Amazon region, the integrity of its forests and other ecosystems, and the...
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