The vast Amazon rain forest helps stabilize the local and global climate, harbors at least 10% of the world's known species, and provides a home for more than 40 million people.
To permanently protect 150 million acres of the Brazilian Amazon, Brazil established the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program in 2002. The program is the world's largest initiative for the conservation of tropical forests.
This project secures necessary policy changes and funding to ensure that large-scale systems of conservation areas are well managed, sustainably financed, and benefit the communities that depend on them.
57 million acres of protected areas were created in its first eight years. ARPA protected areas now total 154 million acres, exceeding the program's initial goal.
Reducing deforestation in the Amazon rain forest, an important carbon reservoir, is essential for mitigating climate change. The protected areas supported by ARPA reduced deforestation by approximately 650,000 acres. This corresponds to an estimated 104 million tons of avoided CO2 emissions.
Many people depend on natural resources from forests for their livelihoods, but when resource extraction becomes unsustainable, it threatens the biodiversity and stability of the ecosystem. Therefore half of the areas are “integral protection areas,” which strictly limit resource use. The other half are “sustainable use areas,” which seek to balance conservation with the sustainable use of natural resources by local populations.
The effectiveness can be partly attributed to the program's management and governance. This has made it more difficult for political or economic changes in Brazil to affect the program's success.