The Amazon is the world’s single largest rainforest – the most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet, and home to rare and precious species of plant and wildlife, alongside a large population of local indigenous people. This vibrant and environmentally vital rainforest spans parts of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.
Sadly, the Amazon has been under increasing threat of deforestation, due to the clearing of land for crop production, animal agriculture, logging, mining, infrastructure, and industrial development. For decades, large swathes of rainforest have been slashed and burned for these commercial activities. Since 1988, an average of 10,000 acres of the Amazon has been lost to deforestation every day and in 2021 alone, around 4.8 million acres of rainforest were destroyed.
As commercial enterprises grow, more areas of this natural wonder are being cleared at a hazardous and unsustainable rate. Widespread deforestation in the Amazon has eradicated countless plant and wildlife species and endangered the lives of local indigenous communities through displacement.
Deforestation also threatens one of our most crucial weapons against the impending climate crisis – the Amazon’s incredible ability to act as a huge ‘carbon sink’ and absorb CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.
Light on the Horizon
Thankfully, this year brought some much-needed good news, with loss of forest cover falling by 55.8% between January to November 2023, compared to the same period the year prior. This is a major development and a promising sign in the global crusade against climate change.
This rapid progress can be linked to recent political changes in Brazil. A new, environmentally driven administration, led by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is taking action to save South America’s largest biome from dying out. Since taking power at the beginning of the year, Lula has implemented penalties for land grabbers, driven out illegal miners, demarcated more indigenous land and created new conservation areas.
The Brazilian President’s ambitious pledge to end illegal deforestation of the Amazon by 2030 has also gained regional support. In August, the eight South American nations that make up the Amazon rainforest agreed to adopt the zero-deforestation pledge. This partnership is the most ambitious government effort yet to protect and preserve the world’s largest rainforest. And it doesn’t end there – Lula says he will push for continued reductions in the lead-up to the United Nations climate conference COP30, which will be hosted by Brazil in the city of Belém in 2025.
Doing Our Part
Aqua Expeditions is committed to acting responsibly and promoting sustainability practices across our operations in the Peruvian Amazon. Our thoughtful small-ship expeditions have a focus on environmental and social responsibility and giving back to local communities. Aqua has paved the way for more sustainable river and sea explorations and educating crew, guests, and local communities on the importance of preserving these fragile ecosystems. Our environmental programs include the repopulation of endangered species, such as the paiche fish and taricaya turtles in the Amazon.
Our strong commitment to preserving the environment in the Peruvian Amazon includes food sustainability. This is reflected in the authentic Peruvian dishes which are served aboard our Amazon vessels, Aqua Nera and Aria Amazon. We’re proud of our long-standing partnership with world-renowned Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, known for pioneering and developing ‘Rainforest-to-Table’ cuisine, using native and locally grown Amazonian ingredients and working closely with local farmers and food producers to responsibly source produce.
In 2010, Schiaffino founded Despensa Amazonica, a non-profit organization that promotes environmental and economic sustainability in the Amazon through food. In 2017, the organization began connecting sustainable paiche fishermen in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve with chefs in Lima’s top restaurants, resulting in higher wages for participating fisherman, more responsibly regulated fisheries, and access to whole fresh paiche for Lima restaurants. Schiaffino also works with the local community to help them commercialize, market, and sell everything from smoked salt, piquant sauces to a nutritious peanut and corn drink. With increased financial stability, communities are in a stronger position to resist logging companies and other environmentally destructive forces from taking over their land.
Alongside Chef Schiaffino, Aqua Expeditions is committed to preserving the Amazon’s precious river and ecosystems as our guests explore this fascinating but endangered region. Information about our responsible travel initiatives can be found here.