Since 2003, the foundation has funded efforts to secure the biodiversity and climate function of the Andes-Amazon biome through support for protected areas and indigenous territories. The new funding will be used to address the environmental degradation in the region caused by ongoing infrastructure development — especially roads and dams — while integrating forest and freshwater conservation activities into the effort. The commitment of $50 million through 2021 brings the foundation's total support for the initiative to more than $500 million.
Protecting the health and resilience of Amazon requires that the bulk of its interconnected watersheds and forest cover remain intact. While 56 percent of the Amazonian forest cover currently is under some form of protection, nearly 20 percent has been lost to activities such as logging, cattle ranching, soy farming, mining, and infrastructure development. According to the foundation, planned investments in transportation and energy infrastructure have the potential to transform the Amazon basin irreversibly, fragmenting terrestrial and freshwater systems and paving the way for further environmental degradation.
"New roads and dams in the region may be necessary for national energy goals and for community and economic development in the region," said Avecita Chicchón, program director for the initiative. "But these must be well planned and carefully selected with true cost accounting, so that projects minimize negative social and environmental impacts and maximize benefits."