Latin America and the Caribbean

Providing evidence for policies that benefit forests and people in Latin America


Latin America’s tropical forests provide food, shelter and livelihoods for millions of people, from the Andes to the largest expanse of peatlands and largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon. From Brazil nuts to wild meat and medicinal plants to timber, these ecosystems harbor globally important forest products and sustain an estimated population of 45 million people – including over 800 different indigenous peoples.

But global heating, deforestation and forest degradation are threatening both ecosystems and livelihoods. CIFOR’s rigorous, collaborative and innovative work in the region aims to help both forests and people to thrive.

About our work in Latin America and the Caribbean

CIFOR addresses research, policy and technical gaps to ensure the sustainable management of Latin American forest landscapes, making sure the region’s vast forest resources contribute to the well-being of people and the planet.

  • The Amazon forest spans more than five million km2 and is by far the world’s largest rainforest area, representing some 55–60% of all rainforest in the world.
  • 1/3 of all carbon stored by tropical forests worldwide and 20% of the world’s flowing fresh water is in the Amazon.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean contains over 50% of the world’s biodiversity. It includes some of the most species-rich biomes on Earth, such as lowland forests, coral reefs, mangroves and wetlands, making the region one of the most endowed in terms of natural capital wealth: trees, water, minerals and fisheries.
  • Latin America is home to 800 different indigenous peoples, with an estimated indigenous population of 45 million people.
  • Recent data situates South America as the world’s largest contributor of carbon-rich tropical peatlands.

Our work

With a focus on nature-based solutions to climate change and participatory action for sustainable development, our work in Latin America covers:

  • REDD+ – Generating knowledge that helps to identify options for more equitable and effective incentive structures, ensure informed decisions based on evidence, contribute to rebalancing power by working in partnership, and providing evidence to potential agents of change in targeted countries, such as Peru and Brazil.
  • Tropical peatlands – Quantifying their extent, carbon stocks, and greenhouse gas fluxes under pristine and degraded conditions, for their inclusion in climate change policies; building capacity for better accounting and management practices.
  • Forest management and restoration – Developing tools and approaches for the design, implementation and monitoring of socially inclusive and cost-effective interventions that also contribute to sound decision making at multiple scales.
  • Collective tenure, rights and livelihoods in traditional forestlands – Supporting communities and indigenous organizations in securing and defending their land tenure rights by generating evidence to enhance understanding of challenges and opportunities, developing tools and strengthening capacities.
  • Progress and challenges for native communities’ tenure security – Review progress in the titling of indigenous community lands to understand perceptions of property rights security and local benefits from titling.
  • Ecosystem services and climate change – Understanding how ecosystems and their contributions to societies help us mitigate and adapt to climate change; pushing for recognition of this role in policies and management.
  • Coastal ecosystems for mitigation and adaptation to climate change – Facilitating the exchange of lessons and knowledge for the inclusion of blue carbon ecosystems in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of countries in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean.
  • Innovative assistance to agroforestry concessions – Assessing forest value chains to identify options to improve and diversity the livelihoods of smallholder producers with agroforestry concessions.
  • Testing methods to build an enabling environment for community forest management – Developing future scenarios and assessing expert opinion to define strategies for promoting sustainable forest management in Amazonian communities.
  • Towards more equitable and effective MSF processes – Designing and implementing gender-responsive adaptive learning processes to support more equitable and meaningful participation of marginalized groups in multi-stakeholder forums (MSFs) in Peru.
  • Gender dynamics in the forests

Research site

Our researchers continue to build and maintain strong partnerships in countries where we do research