Alarmed by rampant destruction in the Amazon rainforest and the long-term impacts on biodiversity, an alliance of indigenous communities pitched the creation of the world’s largest protected area, which would reach from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean, at a United Nations conference in Egypt on Wednesday.
“We have come from the forest and we worry about what is happening,” declared Tuntiak Katan, vice president of COICA, the alliance. “This space is the world’s last great sanctuary for biodiversity. It is there because we are there. Other places have been destroyed.”
COICA, which represents about 500 groups across nine countries and is seeking government-level representation at the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity, aims to safeguard a “sacred corridor of life and culture” about the size of Mexico.
The alliance hopes to implement an “ambitious” post-2020 regional plan to protect biodiversity in the Andes-Amazon-Atlantic or “triple-A” corridor from agribusiness, mining, and the global climate crisis, but they are also concerned about territorial rights, as they don’t recognize modern national borders created by colonial settlers.
“Indigenous communities are guardians of life for all humanity, but they are in danger for protecting their forest,” Katan said. “We are integrated with nature—it runs through our lives and we need rights to defend it.”
While fighting for the right to defend the forest from development and the impacts of global warming, the indigenous groups said they welcome opportunities for collaboration.
Although Colombia had crafted a similar triple-A plan that was set to be unveiled at next month’s climate talks, as the Guardian noted, “the election of new rightwing leaders in Colombia and Brazil has thrown into doubt what would have been a major contribution by South American nations to reduce emissions.”
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