Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance foundation pledges $7 million towards Amazon wildfires

A new environmental foundation co-founded by Leonardo DiCaprio has committed to donating US$5 million (NZ$7.8 million) in aid to the Amazon rainforest.

DiCaprio and philanthropists Laurene Powell-Jobs and Brian Sheth, who founded the new organisation Earth Alliance in July, launched the Amazon Forest Fund on Sunday. 

Alongside the organisation's pledge of US$5 million, the Amazon Forest Fund is seeking donations from the public to go towards the protection of the Brazilian rainforest, also known as the "lungs of the planet".

One-hundred percent of the funds will be directly distributed to "local partners and the indigenous communities protecting the Amazon, the incredible diversity of wildlife that lives there, and the health of the planet overall," says the Alliance's website.

The foundation will be offering support to five local groups working on the ground to combat the fires and protect the indigenous lands and its communities.

"The largest rainforest in the world is a critical piece of the global climate solution. Without the Amazon, we cannot keep the Earth's warming in check," DiCaprio wrote in one Instagram post.

More than 72,000 fires in the Amazon have been registered by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research this year, caused by "an unprecedented surge in deforestation" leading to a drier region, says Earth Alliance.

Brazilian scientist Alexandre Antoine has said "immediate action" is essential to extinguishing the current fires and preventing future ones.


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