Top 3-5 Challenges to Ending Deforestation

At XPRIZE, we consider how to have impact in the world today by first imagining a desired future.

A desired future state is an aspirational—yet credible—vision for the future in a specific timeframe.

We accomplished this by leveraging a global community of experts to design the Future of Forests ImpactMap.

Now, we are moving to a Prize Design which you are helping with here! to address these issues - and accelerate progress toward a more positive future.

This Amazon Rainforest Prize Design will ultimately:

  • Provide the outline of what the winning team must accomplish to be awarded the prize; and
  • Define the parameters of the XPRIZE competition. Audacious, yet achievable.

For this first Activity, please consider the following scenario:

In 2040, deforestation is a concern of the past; biodiversity has been preserved; and the Amazon Rainforest is thriving.
Now consider the present state of the Amazon. What are the biggest challenges to achieving this future? Why?

We are asking you to:

  • Share 3-5 of the top challenges you see to ending deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, whether those factors are natural, or social; environmental, or political; legal, or ethical.
  • Examples could include: land-use competition, competing political priorities, technological limitations, indigenous population rights, economic drivers, current farming practices, or any factor you feel is most significant. We want all of your thoughts and ideas!

To contribute, click on the “New Discussion” button in the sidebar.

If you have questions, you can leave a comment here.

We look forward to hearing your ideas.

I feel that three of the top challenges to ending deforestation in the Amazon are:

  1. Competing Political Priorities – The disparate policies between countries, economic pressures and the recent trend towards repealing environmental protections in favor of businesses will only increase legal and illegal deforestation.

  2. Land Use – Without practical cash crop alternatives for rural farmers, conversion of virgin rainforest to cattle pastures and/or for soy production will only increase to keep up with a growing global demand for those commodities.

  3. Indigenous Population Land Rights – Current political rhetoric in some countries has damaged relations between governments and indigenous populations, challenging land rights and devaluing their vital role in preserving the Amazon’s invaluable biodiversity and ecosystem.

I agree with your top three challenges, but also feel that awareness and education and cooperation are key to solving them. I can see all three of your top challenges solved with a single, proven strategy currenly used in California for small entrepreneurial farms. It is mainlly in regard to your second of three top challenges, I think that awareness of no till farming and using current lands in a more efficient way is a viable alternative for rural farmers, avoiding the current practice of expanding clear cutting and further deforestation. The issue of awareness, using current lands and enriching them would require education and cooperation, but it would offer all three of your challenges an economical and immediate use answer. By eliminating further destruction and enriching current land use, these problems will be historical ones.

Thanks for the note Janet Lee! We definitely want to work to make these problems historical ones.

No-Till farming is an interesting solution. Do you know of any researchers or organizations working on promoting/studying no-till farming in South America? We are curious to know more about the challenges and barriers to adoption for no-till farming.

If we want to stop the exploitation of natural resources, we need to reduce the market forces that drive consumer-driven choices. For example, if the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is due to cattle ranchers clear cutting the land to supply beef for consumers, we should focus on reducing the incentive; the incentive being money in return for beef. This translates to changing the way people think about beef consumption. The consumer market will drive the degree to which our natural resources are depleted destroyed.