Environmental policy and action on the ground in the Amazon

Environmental policy and action on the ground in the Amazon

  • Mongabay is publishing a new edition of the book, “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” in short installments and in three languages: Spanish, English and Portuguese.
  • Author Timothy J. Killeen is an academic and expert who, since the 1980s, has studied the rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia, where he lived for more than 35 years.
  • Chronicling the efforts of nine Amazonian countries to curb deforestation, this edition provides an overview of the topics most relevant to the conservation of the region’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and Indigenous cultures, as well as a description of the conventional and sustainable development models that are vying for space within the regional economy.
  • This is part of chapter 1 of “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” see the bottom of this page for links to all the excerpts.

From the outset, academics realised that the development programmes being deployed across the Amazon in the 1960s and 1970s would bring irreversible harm. Attempts to promote conservation were a natural outgrowth of their efforts to document the region’s biodiversity and ecological complexity. They were not the first defenders of the Amazon, however; that distinction belongs to Indigenous people who had been fighting to protect their way of life for centuries.

Canopy platform in Amacayacu National Park, Colombia. Image by Rhett A. Butler.

These two groups, sometimes working together and sometimes independently, motivated citizens across the world to organize civil society groups, now known as ‘non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs), to advocate for biodiversity conservation, the protection of Indigenous rights and eventually the transformation of the region’s economy. Governments and the private sector have responded by implementing policies and adopting business practices that seek to staunch the deterioration of the environment.

It remains to be seen, however, whether these actions will be sufficient to change human behavior on frontier landscapes or slow global warming within the timeframe needed to save the Amazon. These policies are now being called into question by newly elected governments in Brazil and Bolivia that have embraced conventional development models, by chaos in Venezuela, and equivocation in Ecuador, Peru, Guyana and Suriname.

“A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” is a book by Timothy Killeen and contains the author’s viewpoints and analysis. The second edition was published by The White Horse in 2021, under the terms of a Creative Commons license (CC BY 4.0 license).

Read the other excerpted portions of chapter 1 here:

Chapter 1. The state of the Amazon


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