Another great ecotourism destination is the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. The amazon rainforest is one of the wonders of the natural world. Unfortunately, however, it is also one of the most endangered ecosystems on our planet. Interestingly, ecotourism could form a part of the solution when it comes to protecting this precious environment. www.travelrows.com
In this article, we will take a look at the Amazon Rainforest and gain a better appreciation of its value. We will then go on to discuss why the rainforest is under threat, and how and why ecotourism can help. Then we will delve a little deeper into how one might go about choosing an ecotourism adventure in Brazil, and highlight some of the things that you could expect on such an adventure.
Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and represents over half of the world’s remaining rainforests. It is famed for its biodiversity. The rainforest extends across much of north western Brazil, and into Colombia, Peru and other South American countries. 60% of the forest lies within Brazil’s borders. It is traversed not just by the famous Amazon river, but also by thousands of other waterways.
Amazon Rainforest on the map and its reviews:
This rainforest constitutes the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world. One in ten of all the species found on planet Earth are to be found here. The biodiversity of plant species here is the highest anywhere on earth.
Not only does this ecosystem support a huge quantity of plant and animal life directly, it is also crucial for all life on Earth. Amazonian evergreen forests account for about 10% of the world’s terrestrial primary productivity and 10% of the carbon stores in ecosystems. Amazonian forests are estimated to have accumulated 0.62 ± 0.37 tons of carbon per hectare per year between 1975 and 1996. The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most crucial carbon sinks on our planet.
Why the Rainforest is Under Threat
Worryingly, deforestation is a major threat to the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. Environmentalists are seriously concerned about loss of biodiversity that will result from destruction of the forest, and also about the release of the carbon contained within the vegetation, which could accelerate global warming.
What is more, global warming is in itself a threat to the rainforest, alongside deforestation. One computer model showed that, under conditions of severely reduced rainfall and increased temperatures, the Amazon rainforest could become unsustainable and experience an almost complete loss of rainforest cover in the basin by 2100.
Between August 2017 and July 2018, there was a rise of 13.7% in deforestation over the previous year. 7,900 sq km were cleared – the largest area cleared since 2008. In June 2019, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest increased by more than 88%. This tragic development – overseen by Brazil’s Bolsonaro government – could prove catastrophic. The rainforest is ever closer to a tipping point that would mean that it would no longer be able to sustain itself and could be irretrievably lost forever.
Deforestation is attributed to a wide range of local, national and international factors. The cattle sector in the Brazilian rainforest is a major factor – as are illegal logging, road formation, and clearances for subsistence agriculture, and for cultivation of cash crops like soy. Governmental policy in recent months has significantly worsened the picture for forest conservation, and for the rights of indigenous people who live in and depend upon the forest.
Can Ecotourism Help?
Ecotourism is a way not only to experience for yourself the stunning ecosystem of the rainforest, but could also aid in slowing deforestation and protecting the rainforest and its people. By bringing money into the regions affected by deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, responsible tourism can give local people an alternative to industries that rely on a slash and burn approach. Ecotourism is a way of monetizing the true value of the standing rainforest in Brazil – the more people can rely on a tourism income – the more they will come to see the value to preserving this precious environment.
According to a study carried out by the Copérnico Institute of Holland’s Utrecht University, successful ecotourism projects could yield an average of US$3.26 to US$6.58 per ha of standing forest per year.
Ecotourism can, therefore, be an alternative income stream to invasive farming, logging and drilling. What is more, ecotourism the the Amazon rainforest in Brazil can also allow international visitors to contribute to the forest’s conservation, to the replanting of trees in deforested areas, and to the restoration of the damaged ecosystem.
Tips for Choosing an Ecotourism Adventure in Brazil
Ecotourism was not widely practised in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil until the last ten years or so. However, as local people have sought new less destructive sources of income, and several international organizations have been developed to promote ecotourism in the region, sustainable travel options have become more available here.
* It is important to realise that ‘ecotourism’ is often a word bandied about in Brazil. But it does not always mean the same thing. True ecotourism should involve taking care of both the environment and local people. But all too often, an excursion or vacation marketed as ‘ecotourism’ trip in Brazil just means tourism in nature.
* When planning an ecotourism adventure in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, it is important to make sure that the option truly is an eco-friendly and sustainable one.
* A good place to begin when seeking an ecotourism adventure in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest is with Aldeia dos Lagos. This was created by the Association for Environmental and Cultural Preservation of Silves to replace the non-sustainable fishing activities of people in the area.
* You could also consider options like Xixnan Amazon Eco-Lodge, a true community-based experience in one of the most pristine parts of the ranforest. The ecotourism destination is guaranteed by WWF and certified by the National Association for Responsible Tourism.
* Ecotourism in Brazil is definitely still in its infancy. That said, there are a number of sites where you can enjoy a low impact stay in the Amazon, that will benefit the environment and local people. It is worthwhile taking the time to seek out these opportunities.
Getting To Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest
The heart of the Amazon rainforest can usually only be reached by boat. For example, to reach Xixuau, you will take a spectacular one day cruise along the Rio Negro and Rio Jauaperi from Manaus. This is the start point of many rainforest adventures, which will take you along the various rivers and deep into the heart of the rainforest.
Manaus is usually reached by air, through there are only limited direct flights into the Manaus Eduardo Gomes International Airport. These are usually from Miami, Panama City, Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo.
You may question whether or not it is ethical and sustainable to travel to the Amazon rainforest at all, given that you will likely have to arrive by air. Air travel does, of course, carry a huge carbon cost and contributes significantly to global warming. But it is important to weigh up the pros and cons and to realise that, by traveling here, you may be able to help protect and conserve this vitally important and tragically fragile ecosystem.
What to See and Do on an Ecotourism Adventure in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest
The wonders of the Amazon rainforest are like nothing else on earth. Some of the highlights include:
- Encounters with a wide range of native wildlife.
- The chance to explore the incredible plant biodiversity of the region.
- Marvellous Manaus, with its historic and cultural attractions, including Manaus Opera House and fascinating Amazonian Research Centre and rubber plantation museum.
- The unique spectacle of the meeting of the waters, where the Rio Negro meets the Rio Solimões.
- The unique and surprising Anavilhanas archipelago, on the Rio Negro.
- Boat rides along many beautiful rivers and tributaries.
- Breathtaking treks through pristine rainforest.
- Swimming at wonderful waterfalls and stunning natural beauty spots.
- The chance to discover the vibrant and fascinating cultures of indigenous peoples.
The rich wonders of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest truly are something to behold. Taking a trip here could really be the adventure of a lifetime. But if you are planning a visit – time could be limited to experience its natural abundance. If we do not value and protect this natural wonder, we will soon lose it altogether – threatening all life on earth.