Indigenous peoples control 1.4 million square miles of territory and nearly half of the remaining primary rainforest in the Amazon. Yet, across the Amazon, their rainforest territories are being degraded at an alarming rate. While the forest’s ancestral guardians have the experience and incentives to steward millions of acres of standing forest, they lack the resources, tools, networks, and institutional capacity to defend against the 21st century’s mounting threats. We cannot protect the climate or stop the extinction crisis if we don’t protect the Amazon rainforest, and we cannot protect the Amazon without investing in Indigenous peoples.
This project will support a pioneering, new model of globally backed, Indigenous-led conservation of the Upper Amazon, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Amazon Frontlines works directly with Indigenous communities and organizations to ensure that they have the tools, resources, and networks needed to protect their rainforest territory and their ancestral culture.
“As Indigenous peoples, we are fighting to protect what we love –our way of life, our rivers, the animals, our forests, life on Earth” –Nemonte Nenquimo, Waorani leader and co-founder of Amazon Frontlines and Ceibo Alliance
Over the last eight years, Amazon Frontlines has worked alongside Indigenous peoples to amplify their voices and build political power to protect the Amazon. Their on-the-ground, listen-first approach has earned trust and respect from Indigenous nations across the Upper Amazon region, informing an innovative partnership model that builds locally driven solutions and brings them to scale.
To date, this effort has resulted in the protection of over 700,000 acres of rainforest through a combination of strategic litigation backed by community organizing, global campaigning and rigorous evidence collection. This model has set a precedent that staves off the imminent threat of oil and gas drilling across an additional 7 million acres.
A key to this success was the formation of the Ceibo Alliance, a first-of-its-kind alliance between ancestral nations of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. With over 35 full-time indigenous activists working out of an organizing center in the jungle, it now operates across 80 villages and 5 million acres of primary rainforest. The Ceibo Alliance is developing and implementing strategies to protect these rainforest homelands and way of life. Amazon Frontlines and the Ceibo Alliance are now renowned globally, recognized by TIME100, the BBC, the UN Equator Prize, the Goldman Prize, and Bioneers.
With Indigenous peoples at the helm of every strategy and decision, this pioneering model of frontline organizing and Indigenous-led conservation is poised to scale, helping to solve climate change by protecting some of the highest biodiversity ecosystems on the planet. Additional grant dollars will go to expanding mapping and monitoring efforts, supporting community leaders, and upholding recent legal decisions to protect and preserve the Amazon.