The Amazon. Its vast wilderness is home to more indigenous people than anywhere else on the planet, habitat for 10% of all known species, and critical to the health of everyone on Earth. And it’s burning.
The fires—fueled by an uptick in deforestation and illegal burning combined with dry weather conditions—are wreaking havoc as they cross national borders and jump rivers, consuming this incredible ecosystem as they move.
This is an environmental disaster of global proportions. But together, we can help.
WWF has formed an emergency fund to drive critical resources to the people at the front lines of the dramatic fires, specifically to local civil society organizations that represent and work with indigenous peoples and local communities to protect the Amazon. Every dollar you donate will go to partners on-the-ground.
The funds will be directed to a range of activities related to:
- support for local community and indigenous organizations to work with and mobilize local authorities
- fire hazard monitoring in areas of risk
- direct response to fires
- health and security of local and indigenous communities on the front lines
- development of post-fire recovery plan in priority protected and local and indigenous community conserved areas
The fund will focus on the areas in need where WWF has ongoing conservation work and partnerships with local organizations that support the needs of indigenous and traditional communities and their efforts to secure the Amazon. Read more details here.
Thanks to the generous support of donors who are resourcing WWF-US’s costs associated with distributing funds in Amazon countries, 100% of donations will go directly to partners on the ground working on the fire response and recovery in Earth’s largest rain forest.
After the emergency
WWF is committed to exercising the highest level of integrity in stewarding the funds so generously provided by donors looking to address the fires currently raging in the Amazon. While we anticipate distributing 100% of funds raised over the next twelve months, if any funds remain when this particular crisis is no longer emergent, WWF will direct the resources towards forest restoration, fire prevention, sustainable growth, and other critical conservation work in the Amazon region. We will continue to transparently report out through worldwildlife.org and emails on the activities resourced by the Fund until all monies have been allocated.
Why we're doing this
People at risk
The Amazon is home to 34 million people, including over 350 groups of indigenous peoples, some of them living in voluntary isolation. The fires are causing serious social, economic and public health problems to many of its inhabitants. Where risks are high, women and children are being evacuated. Volunteers are working arduously to put out fires with little or no training and often without basic equipment like masks and boots. Local communities are losing their homes, land, and livelihoods to the advancing flames. When the winds changed and the fire took a turn, one Bolivian community lost over $60,000 of sustainably harvested timber—the equivalent of one years’ income for the entire community.
Wildlife at risk
The Amazon is home to billions of animals—from tiny insects to jaguars. Many of them will not survive. Wildlife in the areas that are burning are trying to flee to other parts of the forest for safety. Some are burning alive. Many of the species most at risk from the flames were already under threat, including spider monkeys, hyacinth macaw, jaguar, harpy eagle, three-toed sloth, and lowland tapirs, among others.
The world at risk
There is a clear link between the health of the Amazon and the health of the planet. The massive rain forest, which contains 90 billion-140 billion metric tons of carbon, also recycles its own water, generates moisture, and helps stabilize the global climate. Losing more of the forest could release millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and push the system past its ecological tipping point, causing the region to become a source of CO2 instead of a sink.
It is estimated that Amazon’s tipping point can occur from 20%-25% deforestation, and we are already at around 20%. When this happens, a process of savanization begins, turning the rain forest into tropical grasslands, and the forest cannot fulfill its important role in the rain regime that underpins food, water and energy security for the region and globally.
Why this is happening
The fires are a direct result of soaring deforestation rates to clear or prepare land for cattle farming, agriculture, land grabbing or illegal mining, including alarming expansion in protected areas (both conservation units and indigenous lands).
Why this is urgent
The dry season is far from over. While fires are not unusual at this time of year, the sheer scale and intensity of these fires are exceptional. We have seen a massive increase in the number of fires in 2019: almost 73,000 fires have been recorded in the Amazon rain forest already this year—85% more fires than were seen in the whole of 2018—and half of these have been in the last three weeks. In the past few days, a change in the winds has caused the existing fires to intensify and new fire points to appear, particularly in Bolivia and Paraguay. Monitoring and mobilization will be critical in the coming months.
Thank you! We hope you will join us however you can.