The main objective of the Andes-Amazon Initiative (AAI) is to maintain the ecological function and representative biodiversity of the Amazon Basin. Because the climate and hydrological function of the basin depends on extensive, continuous forest cover, the Initiative seeks the durable, long-term maintenance of sufficient forest cover to maintain this function. This outcome has become increasingly relevant since the Initiative’s inception, given new scientific information on the role of Amazonian forest cover for global climate change mitigation as well as regional hydrological function.
Over the last ten years, the Foundation has invested $149 million in a protected area approach to conserving forest cover. With an additional $69 million in supporting strategies, this approach has achieved the creation and improved management of approximately 150 million hectares, or around 29% of the original forest cover of the Amazon. Using this approach, we have learned that:
- It is possible to reduce local deforestation rates through the establishment of protected areas and their effective management;
- Successful implementation of protected areas and indigenous lands is a longer and more costly process than originally predicted by AAI and its NGO and government partners; and,
- The potential for protected area creation today, extraordinarily high in the past decade, is now limited, and it is not realistic to expect that protected areas will cover more than one half of the basin in the future.
In consequence, it is clear that the long-term maintenance of forest cover, especially in the heavily contested frontiers of deforestation, can no longer rely solely on the creation and effective management of protected areas. Instead, it will also depend on the reduction of external threats to protected areas, and on the development and implementation of improved management and sustainable use of forests outside of protected areas.
A Closer Look at the Strategies
AAI’s current approach (see figure below) reflects a blend of proven strategies focused on protected area implementation in partnership with NGOs and state and national government agencies (Strategy A), and experimental, less-certain approaches to mitigate drivers of deforestation, and to establish sustainable, forest-valuing economies based on comprehensive stakeholder agreements (Strategy B). These approaches require engagement with new partners in the business and regulatory sectors, a process that has already begun to unfold with promising results.
A third strategic focus (Strategy C) is on the enabling conditions necessary to (a) reduce threats to protected areas and biodiversity created by infrastructure development, and (b) increase the value of standing forests through compensation for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which is expected to facilitate sustainable financing for protected areas and provide additional incentives for business to adopt best practices on private lands.
From 2011 to 2016, the intended impact of the Initiative is to reduce current deforestation and forest degradation rates, and to reduce vulnerability to future deforestation and forest degradation in targeted geographic locations of the basin. These locations (Loreto in Peru, Pastaza in Ecuador, Chiribiquete in Colombia, Pará/Mato Grosso in Brazil) were chosen based on their high vulnerability to forest loss and their potential as model systems in which to test approaches for the transformation of drivers of deforestation. The Initiative’s success rests on a phased operational plan, in which strategies and geographies are emphasized at different time periods.
A set of measurable outcomes will enable us to determine if we are making suitable progress on this refreshed strategy. Consistent monitoring of carefully selected indicators will allow the Initiative to make timely adaptive decisions about the timing, maintenance or modification of the proposed strategies.
Therefore, the Initiative will:
- Fully implement the well tested protected area strategy, with interventions at the individual protected area level in five countries and the protected area system level in three countries; and
- Engage in two years of experimental grant-making in a selected subset of the driver strategies, with the intention of testing the AAI’s ability to gain traction in, and produce change in these spaces. First priorities are interventions in the cattle sector in Brazil, land use management in Peru (Loreto), infrastructure (e.g. dams and roads) in the southwestern Amazon headwaters (Upper Madeira Basin), and REDD frameworks in three countries (Brazil, Colombia and Peru). These geographic locations and themes currently show the greatest window of opportunity for GBMF impact.
In mid-2013, following an internal evaluation of grant results and the impact of interventions on both institutional change and deforestation rates, AAI will determine which driver strategies will be recommitted, extended, or phased out, depending on their viability.
This multi-pronged strategy is essential to provide us and our implementing partners with workable solutions to deforestation in the Amazon. A monitoring and evaluation plan is being designed to support adaptive management by both measuring progress towards outcomes and testing the theories of change. AAI will rely on monitoring of indicators by its own staff and on external assessments.
Activities are to be implemented through 2016, with a mid-term internal evaluation of our experimental strategies in 2013.
Fig.1 AAI Summary Strategic Approach, 2011
- Strategy A: Building resilient protected areas and protected area systems.
- Sub-Strategy A1: Support for protected area systems (Brazil, Peru, and Colombia).
- Sub-Strategy A2: Continued direct support for priority protected areas. (Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia)
- Strategy B: Transforming frontier economies.
- Sub-Strategy B1. Establishing clean commodity supply chains in Mato Grosso and Pará states, Brazil.
- B1a: Deforestation-free cattle ranching
- B1b: Sustainable, legal timber
- Sub-Strategy B2.Creating models of integrated land-use management in the Andean frontier.
- Strategy C: Basin-wide Enabling Conditions: Infrastructure and REDD.
- Sub-Strategy C1. Ensuring that infrastructure development appropriately assesses and mitigates environmental impacts.(Andean Headwaters).
- Sub-Strategy C2. Establishing solid national and sub-national frameworks for REDD (Brazil, Peru, and Colombia).