The Amazon: A Global Treasure
Rainforests sustain us. They help regulate the global climate and are vital to maintaining the earth’s fragile balance. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest, covering an area larger than the continental United States. It houses one-third of the Earth’s plant and animal species and produces one-fifth of all its fresh water.
Nearly 400 distinct indigenous peoples depend on the Amazon rainforest for their physical and cultural survival. At current rates of deforestation, nearly 50 percent of the Amazon could be lost or severely degraded by the year 2020, and the vast majority will no longer be in a pristine state.
With global deforestation contributing 20–25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, Amazon Watch and our indigenous partners are providing a service to all humanity as we together seek to defend the rainforest. Each of us can take action. We may be the last generation that has a chance to protect this precious gem of our world’s cultural and ecological heritage – an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration.
Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. They partner with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems.
They envision a world that honors and values cultural and biological diversity and the critical contribution of tropical rainforests to our planet’s life support system. They believe that indigenous self-determination is paramount, and see that indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contribute greatly to sustainable and equitable stewardship of the Earth. They strive for a world in which governments, corporations and civil society respect the collective rights of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent over any activity affecting their territories and resources. They commit, in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect, to support indigenous allies in their efforts to protect life, land, and culture in accordance with their aspirations and needs.