©WWF-Brazil/Zig Koch

Tapajós River Basin, Brazil

A vital Amazon tributary whose diverse wildlife and local people are at risk from forest loss and toxic mercury

Help Trillion Trees protect this vital Amazon river basin – not just from toxic pollution and damming, but from deforestation and land mismanagement.

Our impact

Helped establish local coalitions, improved management of protected areas, and worked with the State and businesses to reduce mercury pollution.

Trillion Trees partner WWF has been establishing a broad coalition of local communities, scientists, decision-makers and influencers who are motivated and mobilised to save the Tapajós River and landscapes.

This includes supporting the state government, local and indigenous groups to improve monitoring and managing of protected areas. And also partnering with key private and state stakeholders in the gold market to stop illegal gold mining and end mercury pollution.

Our target

  • Consolidate protected areas by 2025
  • Improve economic, environmental and social benefits for local communities by 2025
  • 100% of the main river to remain free-flowing, with reduced contamination by 2025
  • Dramatically reduce forest loss and damage in the river basin by 2030
  • Key species like jaguar and river dolphin to be stabilised/recovering in priority areas by 2030

How we work

Supporting forest-friendly enterprises, promoting research, and encouraging investment. 

The work of Trillion Trees partner WWF in this area includes improving value chains for non-timber forest products (NTFP) – for example in Brazil this is often rubber, nuts or cocoa. Also establishing a Tapajós monitoring network, which includes citizen science, and engaging with universities and other institutions to encourage research.

We are also involved in communicating results for awareness-raising, and rolling out advocacy campaigns. And seeking to engage national and international investors with an interest in sustainable infrastructure.

Why the Tapajós River Basin

The Tapajós river runs through the heart of the Brazilian rainforest. It is one of the last remaining free-flowing tributaries of the iconic Amazon River . 

The Tapajós river basin itself covers an area larger than Germany. There is high natural biodiversity here – including river dolphins and jaguars – but that is dwindling fast. Deforestation in the river basin is estimated to be 180,000 hectares per year. The Tapajós river is badly polluted by small and large-scale mining – for example mercury waste from gold mining – and by agrochemicals from intensive farming. This pollution has reduced fish stocks – a vital source of food for the 1.4 million people in the Tapajós basin, including the more than 9,000 indigenous peoples. 

Huge infrastructure developments are threatening the area too – from hydropower dams to railways and roads. These are opening up the area even more to extractive and other commercial interests – often at odds with the rights of local and indigenous communities. On the still free-flowing Tapajós river, dozens of dams are planned over the next 20 years – the largest being the São Luis do Tapajós. All this infrastructure would severely affect the river, and impact the lives of thousands of people in the river basin.

Partners and & Contributors

Lead Partner: WWF