Cinematic Orchestra’s track featuring Roots Manuva, All Things to All Men, sums up the UN’s latest report on Amazonia in a Brazilian nutshell. It also blows away the misconception that Amazonia is a bunch of trees, a few tribes and some anthropologists and biologists bumping into it each other in the forest. Be it a Mecca for conservationists, a cash-cow for ranchers and soya producers, the ancestral home for indigenous peoples, a massive logistical and governance challenge for local and national governments, or a crucial battleground in the fight against climate change, the Amazonian region spanning 8 South American countries is an area of incalculable value and importance to billions of people. The report, GEO Amazonia, finds that the demand for the regions’ commodities – timber, hydrocarbons, minerals, agriculture and livestock – is the predominant driver of environmental degradation combined with associated road building and rapid urbanization. By 2005, deforestation across Amazonia reached 857, 666 km², meaning 17% of the region’s total vegetation cover had been reduced. Factor in climate change which is causing higher than average temperature rises in the area and a vicious cycle emerges. If the loss of forest reaches a certain tipping point, then rainfall will decrease rapidly turning the forest into a tinder box resulting in increased forest fires, carbon emissions and a further reduction in precipitation. By the end of the century a large chunk of Amazonia could be lost entirely (85%) or transformed into savannah effectively ending the region’s existence as an important carbon repository. Organised crime, food and water insecurity and an increase in diseases such as malaria, exacerbated by environmental degradation, are also taking a heavy toll on the region’s increasingly vulnerable population of 33.5 million people. Urbanisation is happening at breakneck speed as roughly 60 percent of Amazonia’s population now live in cities. A lack of basic services and adequate waste disposal, poor air quality and noise pollution adds to the misery. The relentless extraction of natural resources continues to place huge pressures on the remaining indigenous groups and is causing the irreversible loss of a number of endangered species. The report makes no bones that it will be impossible to maintain the integrity of the Amazonian ecosystems completely, but suggests that the trade-off between environmental degradation and socio-economic development need not be so stark. Amazonian governments have made some progress in managing environmental problems. Brazil, for example, leads the pack on monitoring Amazonian deforestation with one of the world's most advanced real-time deforestation monitors. However, the lack of financial resources and the overlapping of policy making at the various levels of government – both domestically and internationally - hinders faster and more effective action to curb the destruction. The final chapter offers recommendations for a possible future Amazonia. Emphasis is placed on extending regional integration while promoting activities which place greater economic value on Amazonian environmental services such as watershed management than on the commodities being shipped out. The region’s current development trajectory based on the unsustainable extraction of anything edible or usable may be the dominant paradigm in town. However, the future of Amazonia could be different if those in control accept that this model is representative of a world edging closer to the abyss.