The Time is Now: Saving the Brazilian Amazon

Brazilian rainforest canopy, by Richard Whitcombe
Brazilian rainforest canopy, by Richard Whitcombe

Saving the Brazilian Amazon is conservation’s greatest challenge and opportunity. This vast area is a refuge for a third of Earth’s terrestrial species, stores more than four times the combined annual CO2 emissions of the world’s top 10 emitting nations, and is home to more than 1 million Indigenous Peoples living in about 300 culturally unique tribes.

Nearly 25% of Brazil’s forests have already been lost to agricultural expansion and livestock production, mining and other activities. For better or worse, politics is key to conservation success no matter where on the globe one points. In Brazil, the Jair Bolsonaro presidency enabled a devastating degree of deforestation, 90% of which happened outside of Indigenous territories. On the other hand, during the first six months of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s presidency, deforestation dropped 36%. But terms in office are fleeting. We must act to conserve as much as possible of the 141 million acres of unprotected, undesignated lands in the Brazilian Amazon while President Lula leads the country.

Deforestation in Brazil, by Paralaxis

Deforestation in Brazil, by Paralaxis

Our commitment to the Brazilian Amazon

Rainforest Trust’s board of directors and leadership staff developed our ambitious Brazil Strategy in 2022 to tackle the major threats to the Amazon: land-grabbing of unprotected, undesignated lands for illegal mining, logging and the expansion of agriculture and cattle farming. We have committed to protect or be in the process of protecting 20 million acres of the Brazilian Amazon through a $40 million investment to be raised over four years, 2023–2026. We have created the Brazilian Amazon Fund for this urgent purpose.

Backing Indigenous and traditional communities to secure land titles and management rights for their territories is the most effective way to achieve results in the Amazon. Why? Because these communities have been living sustainably for generations on their ancestral lands and waters. Globally, these territories shelter 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

In the short time since launching our Brazilian Amazon Strategy and Fund, we are working with local and Indigenous partners on four new projects across the Brazilian Amazon to secure land titles and/or management rights on an estimated 4 million acres of critical rainforest, 3 million acres of which is high-integrity forest. Our partners for these projects are Instituto Internacional de Educação do Brasil (IEB), Centro de Trabalho Indigenista (CTI) and RARE, Inc., representing at least 12,000 Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Amazonian Community members. Once completed, the projects will safeguard 62 unique threatened species and lock up 1,193,482,489 metric tons of CO2 equivalents.

Rainforest Trust is Protecting the Brazilian Amazon in the water and on land

Brazilian Amazon Rainforest, photo by Gustavo Frazao


Securing land tenure and management rights for Indigenous and traditional communities is a highly effective and cost-efficient strategy for conservation of habitat and species.

The Brazilian Amazon Fund will help stop deforestation and safeguard 20 million acres of intact rainforest—an expanse the size of South Carolina.

Rainforest Trust established the Brazilian Amazon Fund to address the urgency and importance of saving the largest rainforest on Earth for species, people and the planet.

The Brazilian Amazon rainforest

The Brazilian Amazon rainforest

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