Indigenous groups have come together to protect the Amazon rainforest by calling for 200m hectares of the region into the world’s largest protected area.

The plan does not recognise national boundaries, but instead would protect an international stretch of the Amazon rainforest from deforestation and development. The area of the forest – equivalent to the size of Mexico – would be preserved for wildlife, indigenous people, and climate stability.

The Amazon is known as “the lungs of the planet” because the trees absorb so much carbon emissions, mitigating the effects of climate change. The Amazon is also the largest, most diverse tropical rainforest on Earth

More than half of the world’s species of plants and animals live in the region. Many unique animals are found nowhere else in the world, like the Jesus lizard and Amazon river dolphin.

Furthermore, about a million indigenous people live in the rainforest, many of whom are in uncontacted tribes. Between them, representatives of 500 cultures in 9 Amazon countries came together to form an indigenous alliance, represented by the Coordinator of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA).

A representative from COICA presented the idea at a United Nations conference on Biodiversity in Egypt on Wednesday. The organisation asked for a “sacred corridor of life and culture.”

“Indigenous Peoples and local communities are a solution to the devastation of our ecosystems and climate change both in the Amazon as well as in the rest of the world,” representative Tuntiak Katan said..

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The rainforest is at risk in many new ways. A new conservative president of Brazil may threaten some of the legal protection that the rainforest currently has, and Columbia has a right-wing leader as well. Deforestation in Brazil is rising. Climate change is harming the biodiversity of the trees there, killing parts of the forest.