Unprecedented Pact to Save Amazonian Forests

Brasilia, Brazil - Today nine Brazilian conservation organizations, including WWF-Brazil, launched an initiative to protect the Amazon's rainforests. This historic pact establishes a system of economic incentives for conservation with a goal of eliminating deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon by 2015 - an ambitious 7 year target.

By putting a monetary value on the multiple benefits people receive from the forests, those whose lands provide services will be compensated, with subsidies or market payments from those who benefit. This could mean that downstream users of water purified by an upstream forest - such as bottling companies or local residents, would pay those who manage the forests - such as indigenous people or rural producers. These economic incentives are designed to strengthen forest governance and optimize the use of already deforested areas.

The Amazon rainforests are a globally important ecosystem, habitat for a staggering variety of wildlife and a source of food, shelter and livelihoods for millions of people. Up to 2006, approximately 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest had already been destroyed - leading to rapid loss of biodiversity and negatively impacting communities who rely on the forest to survive. This deforestation also contributed to climate change, as up to 75 percent of Brazilian greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and forest fires - mainly in the Amazon. Because of this, Brazil is the fourth largest climate polluter in the world.