Scientist helps brief Amazon leaders on sustainable development and restoration at COP27

A Lancaster University Professor has attended the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference – known as COP27 – to deliver a science ‘policy brief’ outlining how the Amazon’s globally important ecosystems can be restored.

Professor Jos Barlow, of Lancaster Environment Centre, delivered the policy brief, Transforming the Amazon through “Arcs of Restoration”, at a special session convened by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s Science Panel for the Amazon.

The session was held by the Inter-state Legal Amazon Consortium – consisting of elected Governors of the nine Brazilian Amazonian states.

The brief was led by Professor Barlow and a team of researchers from Amazonian countries and highlights the “urgent need for large-scale restoration across the Amazon” following decades of degradation that, as well as depleting its biodiversity and ability to absorb carbon, has left the region more vulnerable to climate change.

The researchers outline the opportunities for action to restore the Amazonian environment, and the steps that need to happen to achieve the goals of a restored and healthier biome.

Key messages and steps within the brief include:

· Achieving zero deforestation by 2030, avoiding forest degradation, and a series of forest restoration measures.

· Strengthening existing and developing new policies and supporting them with better enforcement, implementation and governance.

· Clarifying land tenure, resolving land conflicts and disputes and improving the commitments and policies of private businesses and foreign countries importing from the Amazon.

· Empowering local communities, women and youth.

· Effective monitoring of forest extent and condition.

· The need for an equitable approach with the support of local stakeholders and backed with long-term funding.

Professor Barlow said: “The multiple benefits for restoration are now well known, and the big questions are about how it can occur at scales large enough to make a real difference for people, climate, and biodiversity. Our policy brief outlines some of the alternative approaches, and highlights the importance of leveraging natural regeneration in place of expensive tree planting; the important role of public lands; and how restoration must be accompanied by actions that protect the remaining primary forests.

“It was a privilege to be able to work collaboratively with colleagues from Amazonian countries and share the latest scientific knowledge with some of the stakeholders involved in implementation, which is where the greatest challenges lie. The Science Panel for the Amazon aims to enhance these transdisciplinary dialogues, and there is renewed optimism that the change in the Brazilian presidency will accelerate opportunities for positive change.”

The policy brief follows on from an earlier Amazon Assessment Report produced by the Science Panel for the Amazon, including three chapters led by Professor Barlow. It also builds on the researchers’ 24 years of experience of collaborative research in the Brazilian state of Pará.

COP27 is being held at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.

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