The Amazon: A little perspective and hope

Faced with alarming reports that the world’s largest rainforest is on fire, how do you answer your client’s questions about the Amazon?

Reports of Amazonia’s plight are disturbing, particularly given the international media’s slow uptake and the current Brazilian government’s seeming disinterest in little things like maintaining the world’s oxygen supply. For those clients who were considering a trip to the Amazon region and now may be hesitant, or worse, fear this vital ecosystem has been lost, we would like to offer some perspective from our offices in Manaus, Brazil. There’s no denying the Amazon’s situation needs attention and action, but it also helps to be as informed as possible when discussing it with your clients.

To address one obvious question, yes it is still safe to travel to the most commonly visited parts of the Amazon. Remember, the rainforest stretches across an incredible nine countries. While the majority of the forest belongs to Brazil, it also covers areas of Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. Your client’s visit can also play a small part in helping to save the world’s largest rainforest.

It is believed that the Amazon has been in existence for at least 55 million years, while archaeological evidence suggests that human habitation began around 11,000 years ago. Today, Brazil has one of the largest amounts of uncontacted peoples in the world, with approximately 67 unknown tribes in the Amazon. There are now groups dedicated to providing aid to those groups that are known, and to preventing interference to those that remain hidden.

The Amazon stretches across 1.4 billion acres of dense forest encompassing half of the planet’s remaining tropical forests. That’s just over half the total land area of Canada or the United States (including Alaska). It is believed that one in ten of the world’s known species can be found in the rainforest. This diversity makes it both a refuge for endangered species, and a hub for ecotourism. The goal of such tourism is help sustain the ecosystem as well as indigenous communities while providing the kind of wildlife viewing that can only be experienced in the Amazon.

As alarming as the fires are, they will not affect the quality of a travelers’ experience on either an Amazon cruise or lodge stay near Manaus, or in neighbouring Peru or Ecuador. While the pace of deforestation has increased, warranting concern, it is located far from the state of Amazonas, where most Amazon experiences are taken in Brazil. The air here also remains free of smoke, showcasing the Amazon at its healthiest. Fortunately for both travelers and the planet, deforestation in the state of Amazonas has been kept within 3%, and the regions surrounding the River Negro, where cruises take place, remain free from commercial logging and agricultural development, allowing visitors to enjoy the wild forest in its natural state.

While all here at Goway share the concern for rainforest conservation, and are devastated by the damage being done by the current fires and political indifference to the Amazon’s plight, we are heartened by the fact that there is still time to preserve this magnificent rainforest. Goway supports all efforts for rainforest conservation, and one of the most important and necessary steps in this endeavor is environmental education.

Another way is to encourage you and your clients to travel to and experience the Amazon in person and learn why it is not only a uniquely educational and rewarding destination, but an invaluable resource to our everyday lives and indeed survival, even thousands of miles away. The more people experiences this value first hand, the better chance we all have of preserving this ‘lung of the world.’

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