An increase in wildlife trafficking and illegal logging, fishing and mining is posing a great threat to the Amazon Basin, a biodiversity hotspot and the largest and most important freshwater reserve on the planet.
Rampant transnational environmental crime has grave impacts on the region’s ecosystem — and the well-being of Indigenous peoples and local communities in the Amazon.
The Conservando Juntos (Together for Conservation) project is a response to this crisis. The five-year project, supported by USAID, seeks to strengthen the capacities of civil society actors, organizations and their regional networks to lead biodiversity conservation and environmental crime prevention efforts in the Amazon region, particularly in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
Led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a consortium of organizations will implement Conservando Juntos from 2021-2026, including the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia (IPAM), or Amazon Environmental Research Institute, Pronaturaleza, Rare, Confederation of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) and Internews (through the South America team of the Americas Program Unit and the Earth Journalism Network).
Partners will focus on strengthening regional and transboundary collaboration through networks, complementing the efforts developed by Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs), private companies, media, journalists' networks and other civil society organizations to develop innovative and effective solutions to transnational conservation crimes.
Latin America as a whole, and the Amazon region in particular, is one of the most lethal places for journalists, activists and environmental defenders. Indigenous peoples, local communities seeking protection of their territories, civil society organizations working for biodiversity conservation, and journalists reporting on environmental crimes are increasingly facing threats to their physical and digital security. Through Conservando Juntos, Internews will provide tools and training to these actors so that they can report and disseminate information to counter conservation crimes more safely and effectively.
Incorporating lessons learned from our long-standing work in the region, Internews, as part of the consortium, will carry out a range of activities to strengthen media capacity in the Amazon, build and expand networks of journalists, IPLC organizations and other civil society organizations to promote more in-depth investigations and improve reporting on environmental crimes.
- Internews will develop Information Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, to analyze how local communities access and share information about conservation crimes in the Amazon – identifying what sources they trust and where there are gaps in public knowledge.
- With insights gleaned from Organizational Capacity Assessments (OCAs), we will improve the capacity of selected civil society organizations in the Conservando Juntos focus geographies.
- In addition, through story grants and media grants we will support journalists and media outlets to improve the quantity and quality coverage of conservation crimes, especially investigative reporting.
- We will also boost the capacities of IPLCs and civil society organizations to report and disseminate information about the issue.
These capacity-building initiatives will support the media, Indigenous peoples and local communities to safely expose — and ultimately, prevent — transnational conservation crimes such as illegal logging, species trafficking, illegal fishing and illegal mining, and to defend their territories and conserve biodiversity in the region. It is our hope that the project will engender increased trust in the press and a culture of greater transparency and accountability in a region where corruption and crime often prevails with impunity.
Banner image: The morning mist over the Ecuadorian Amazon / Credit: Dallas Krentzel via Flickr.