Protecting the Amazon rain forest requires an extremely strategic, multifaceted plan. The variables contributing to its destruction are complex. While we know that animal agriculture is a major contributing factor to environmental destruction and climate change, studies show that the key to ceasing deforestation in the Amazon is ending the construction of roads. And roads are typically created in conjunction with a corporate industrial development project.
Animal agriculture has a huge environmental and climate impact, and is one of many contributors to the destruction of the Amazon rain forest that must be addressed. But it's not the only cause of deforestation in the Amazon — industrial development in the region includes oil and gas extraction, mining, and mega-dam construction. Projects like these involve the construction of roads, which are gateways for expanded rain forest destruction.
There's no doubt that corporate industrial developments have detrimental effects on Amazonian territories and communities. All industries and governments responsible for destroying the planet should be held accountable for their unmitigated actions.
In fact, 95% of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon occurs on land less than five kilometers from a road. By stopping road construction, which enables access to remote regions of the rain forest, we can stop deforestation of the Amazon, especially areas cleared for livestock purposes.
So how can we stop road construction? One of the most effective ways of stopping road construction is by supporting the legal rights of indigenous peoples. Leading researchers acknowledge that involving indigenous peoples in land management and recognizing their land rights provides one of the most effective strategies for stopping deforestation. In fact, in Brazil alone, deforestation rates within community-protected forests are 11 times lower than in other areas.
That's why nonprofits like Amazon Watch work in long-term partnership with indigenous peoples to strengthen their capacity to advocate for their rights and protect their ancestral territories. By supporting indigenous peoples, Amazon Watch works directly to challenge the underlying drivers of deforestation.
The only way to truly solve the climate crisis and to protect the Amazon rain forest is through a collective effort comprised of a range of strategies from all fronts. This includes uniting with other organizations, institutions and individuals on the front lines in a coordinated effort to protect our planet. While we can all examine our daily habits and take action to avoid supporting industries and corporations causing harm in this region, another way we can help protect the rain forest is by supporting indigenous rights.
Amazon Watch's strategic approach toward empowering indigenous peoples is an imperative piece of the puzzle when we talk about defending the rain forest and seeking solutions to climate change. We hope you'll join us in our efforts.
Photo courtesy of the author