Forty percent of the Amazon is registered by law as indigenous land or protected areas, but a variety of developments—including the Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America (IIRSA), a high-level partnership designed to integrate the transportation, energy, and telecommunications sectors of all South American countries—could threaten the integrity of this unique ecosystem.

"While this visionary program is driven by the real need to promote the continent's economic development and reduce poverty, failure to consider the full environmental and social impacts of IIRSA investments—especially in the context of globalized trade and climate change—may produce irreversible environmental devastation of global consequence," write the authors of "Infrastructure Integration and Environmental Preservation in the Amazon," a Brazil Institute report that summarizes the proceedings of a January 16, 2008, seminar co-sponsored by the Brazil Institute, the Environmental Change and Security Program, and the Latin American Program on IIRSA's potential impacts on the health of the Amazon.

The seminar brought together experts and key players from the conservation, economic development, and government sectors, including Mauro Marcondes-Rodrigues, IIRSA Coordinator at the Inter-American Development Bank; Francisco J. Wulff, principal executive for analysis and sectoral policies at the Andean Development Corporation; Carlos Nobre, director of the Center for Climate Studies and Weather Forecasting; Thomas Lovejoy, president of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment and co-chair of the ECSP Advisory Committee; and biologist Timothy Killeen, author of the Conservation International report "A Perfect Storm in the Amazon Wilderness: Development and Conservation in the Context of the Initiative for Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America (IIRSA)."