Brazil and the Amazon Forest

The Amazon rainforest is the world's largest intact forest. It is home to more than 24 million people in Brazil alone, including hundreds of thousands of Indigenous Peoples belonging to 180 different groups.

There’s a reason the Amazon was the place that inspired scientists to coin the term “biodiversity.” The region is home to 10 percent of all plant and animal species known on Earth. There are approximately 40,000 species of plants and more than 400 mammals, with almost 1,300 different varieties of birds and an insect population in the millions.

In addition to its unparalleled diversity of life, the Amazon plays an essential role in helping to control the planet’s climate. The Amazon Basin stores approximately 100 billion metric tons of carbon — that’s more than ten times the annual global emissions from fossil fuels.

While it covers 2.6 million square miles across nine countries — Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana — about 60 percent of the Amazon Basin is in Brazil, where Greenpeace has focused its efforts.

In the last 40 years, the Brazilian Amazon has lost more than 18 percent of its rainforest — an area about the size of California — to illegal logging, soy agriculture, and cattle ranching. Despite the creation of protected areas in recent decades, most of the remaining forest is under threat. Deforestation has spiked under President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental agenda, threatening biodiversity, the lives of Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities and the global climate. 

Around the world, people like you have stepped up to achieve policy reform, additional protected areas, and commitments from corporations that have slowed the rate of deforestation. Still, forest areas the size of entire cities are burned in the Brazilian Amazon every year to make way for cattle ranching and soy plantations. This has resulted in record-breaking level fires that are catastrophic for the climate and for Indigenous Peoples’ that rely on these forests. 

Together with Greenpeace Brazil, the work in the Amazon investigates the on-the-ground impact global supply chains have in these regions to highlight the threats and pressure governments to act on it. The work in the Amazon has included the award-winning Amazon Soy Moratorium, groundbreaking research on the International Market’s role in cattle-driven deforestation in the Amazon, and in defending critical forest areas from problematic infrastructure expansion.

Greenpeace International Amazon campaign includes adjacent biomes; the Cerrado Savanna Grasslands in Brazil, the Gran Chaco forests in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. While lesser-known internationally, these forests are critical in the fight against climate change and are under serious threat from the same drivers that impact the Amazon.

In July 2006, a historic agreement was signed to protect the Amazon rainforest. Former antagonists from the soya industry, NGOs and corporate sector reconciled their difference and agreed on the Soya Moratorium.