Brazil funds world's biggest reserve network

Conservationists get used to hearing bad news.  But once in a while, there's a big win and really great news.  Today is one of those days.

News worth shouting about...

News worth shouting about...

Brazil has just committed to permanently fund its massive ARPA reserve network--a total of 128 million acres (58 million hectares) of protected areas stretching across the Amazon basin.

ARPA--the Amazon Region Protected Areas program--was originally sustained in part by funding from the World Bank and other overseas donors, but without permanent Brazilian funding it was far from secure. 

ARPA was initiated with a vision to consolidate and interconnect Amazonian protected areas, to create large reserve networks that will hopefully be resilient to future land-use and climate change.

Now, with a permanent commitment to fund the network--with US$215 million this year--the ARPA reserves are guaranteed financial support, theoretically in perpetuity.

The importance of the ARPA network and Amazon rainforest generally--for biodiversity, the global climate, and scores of indigenous cultures--is highlighted in this nice 5-minute video.

The great news about ARPA comes on top of a sharp drop in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon--which is nearly 80% lower than in the early 2000s.  The ARPA reserves and other protected areas, such as indigenous lands, are clearly partly responsible.

So, break out a bottle of bubbly.  Tomorrow it's back to the battle but today, conservationists can celebrate a huge milestone and well-deserved victory.