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Indigenous lands absorb more carbon

Indigenous people fishing in a conservation area in the central Amazon

Luoman / Getty Images

Between 2001 and 2021, areas of the Amazon managed by Indigenous peoples removed 340 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere per year, equivalent to the annual fossil fuel emissions of the entire UK. In the same timeframe, areas of rainforest outside Indigenous lands were a net carbon source, emitting 1.3 billion tons of CO2 per year due to deforestation while absorbing about 1 billion tons of CO2 per year. These data were published in early January and are being analyzed by the World Resources Institute (WRI). According to the report, the deforestation of 20% of the Amazon could be a tipping point that transforms part of the rainforest into a savanna, which would alter rainfall patterns across South America. The WRI estimates that in the last 50 years, around 17% of the Amazon’s vegetation cover has been cleared, mostly (around 80%) to be used for agriculture. It is estimated that nearly 1.5 million people of 385 Indigenous ethnic groups reside in the Amazon, which covers parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.