South Americans join to protect Amazonian communities

19th Apr 2013

South America's Amazonian communities living in an area making up two-fifths of the continent are benefiting from the protection of an eight-country conservation team.

This is aimed at improving their lives and ensuring sustainable development in the home of the world's largest tropical rainforest.

The area being covered comprises Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, spanning more than 7.5 million square kilometres (4.6 million square miles).

The need for conserving such a rich and diverse landscape and its wildlife and communities is clear to holidaymakers who have made private journeys there.

The region hosts around 2.5 million insect species alone.

At least 40,000 plant species, 2,200 fish, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified there.

One-fifth of all the world's bird and fish species live along the Amazon, making it a great favourite for tourists on specialist tours.

The scheme has been hailed as a model for regional cooperation at the 10th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests.

So how are local communities benefiting from this new Amazon Co-operation Treaty Organisation (ACTO) deal?

ACTO says benefits include:

- tracking forest cover

- strengthening community management of forests

- identifying extra resources for forest preservation

- promoting awareness among the Amazonian population

- encouraging international co-operation to combat illegal logging

Jan McAlpine, Director of the Forum's Secretariat, lauded ACTO as one of the "outstanding examples" of regional and South American co-operation on forest conservation and sustainable management.

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