of the Amazon is managed and protected by Indigenous peoples
of the planet’s known biodiversity is contained in the Amazon
square kilometers of tropical rainforest
The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, more than 8 million square kilometers (3 million square miles) and larger than the forty-eight contiguous United States. An estimated 80% of the Amazon is forested and includes some 3,000 Indigenous territories, covering over a third of its area.
We support Indigenous partners to exercise their territorial rights, bolster governance of their communities and assert their own vision of wellbeing. To achieve this we are supporting peoples in northern Brazil, south Suriname, western Guyana, eastern Colombia, and the Ecuador/Peru border region. Our regional Indigenous advisors are guiding us in this process.
There are 350 languages spoken in the amazon. They belong to six major and at least a dozen smaller linguistic families. The basin also has scores of language "Isolates" which are so unique that they can't be linked to any other known language. Each language carries a specific and nuanced understanding of the ecosystem in which it has developed.
Nia Tero is contributing to the implementation of the self-determined vision of 19 Indigenous organizations and some of their NGO partners.
For example, in Brazil, we are supporting organizations such as Apitikaxi and Apiwa in the Tumucumaque Indigenous Land to protect their territories, strengthen their internal governance, fortify their communications, and maintain their cultural continuity and intergenerational exchange. We also support the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA) to defend a Portugal-sized territory shared with the world's largest concentration of uncontacted peoples. In 2020, Nia Tero supported a coalition of national and local Indigenous lawyers that made history, bringing several cases in federal courts to protect isolated peoples. In one, the Articulation of Brazilian Indigenous Peoples (APIB) made an unprecedented – and successful – direct petition to the Supreme Court to compel government agencies to protect tribes in voluntary isolation. Nia Tero is also contributing to Indigenous peoples' policy work, particularly on issues related to recognition and strengthening of land rights, such as our support to the Association of Village Chiefs of Suriname (VIDS) to secure recognition of Indigenous rights in Suriname. As Indigenous leaders face direct threats to their lives, we are supporting partners in Colombia and Brazil to establish Indigenous-led rapid response mechanisms for Indigenous peoples under threat.
A 2020 Amazon basin-wide study in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences showed that Indigenous communities protect forest carbon more effectively than any other landowners in the basin: Carbon is 36 times as secure on native lands than on unprotected or private forests and six times less likely to be emitted as forest carbon is from conventional protected areas. The ecosystems of the Amazon thrive when the Indigenous peoples who care for them thrive—and the whole planet benefits.