This past year, the COVID-19 pandemic challenged people across the world, and the countries sharing the Amazon were among the most impacted. Indigenous peoples experienced higher mortality rates than in urban areas. And despite the illusion that stay-at-home orders would allow nature a chance to heal, the opposite occurred in many parts of the basin, where deforestation and illegal activities continued unabated. Given these rising stakes, Andes Amazon Fund (AAF) and our partner organizations have worked tirelessly to protect wilderness areas and indigenous lands and, in spite of the challenges, were still able to achieve some remarkable successes.
We have shown that there are still vast areas that can be conserved by working with local people, and more than 1.4 million acres (576,000 hectares) received new legal protection with AAF support last year. In Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, municipal and regional governments have been eager to protect their forests for the environmental services they provide and to maintain their biodiversity. In Colombia, grantees such as ACT and GAIA have supported the expansion of indigenous lands so that sacred sites can be defended in forests that connect with some of the country’s most emblematic protected areas.
A significant part of AAF’s work to secure safe havens for biodiversity is to take steps to ensure the effective management of protected areas so that they are made to last. In 2020 alone, our work with partners across the Andean Amazon countries helped 37 new and existing protected areas covering more than 43 million acres (17.5 million hectares) develop governance tools such as management plans. Our efforts also ensured sufficient patrolling and monitoring capabilities to safeguard wildlife and ecological function.
As new conservation areas are proposed, new ways to finance their ongoing protection are being developed. By supporting national funds like Patrimonio Natural del Peru and Herencia Colombia, AAF is helping to provide the means for sustained protection of existing protected areas.
At the same time, to tackle the challenges brought on by the pandemic, AAF provided over $140,000 in coronavirus relief support to our grantees and the communities they work with. We also partnered with an organization called Minga Peru to help our Peruvian partners develop radio programs so that they may continue to remain in contact with the communities they serve. You can read more about our COVID-related efforts below.
|AAF and our dedicated grantees are excited to continue our work protecting biodiversity and ecosystems in 2021. We hope you’ll join us and we thank you for your support.|