We Stand with Communities on the Frontlines

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano

We Stand with Communities on the Frontlines

Under the Bolsonaro presidency, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is up 278% and the world’s largest tropical forest is being converted into a mosaic of cattle pasture and soy fields faster than ever before.  Deforestation – and now the fires we’re witnessing – is the direct result of the ongoing dismantling of public policies that protect the rainforest and support indigenous rights in Brazil. They’re also the result of insatiable world-wide demand for products including soy, beef, and leather. Both companies and consumers are beginning to take action – already yesterday 18 brands including Timberland, Vans and Kipling have suspended buying Brazilian leather.  

Meanwhile, here at the Rainforest Foundation our focus is on our indigenous partners and local communities at the frontlines in the Amazon.   Check out this video from the Xingu+ Network to get a feel for what indigenous peoples on the ground are thinking and doing to protect their forests from destruction. It has special resonance for us, as the Rainforest Foundation was founded 30 years ago to support the demarcation of the Menkragnoti Territory where the community in this video lives. And now fires are approaching their lands. They say they will “resist for the forest” by producing without destroying, saying no to deforestation and fires in their lands. All because even though they are from the Xingu region of Brazil, they are all connected with us.

While we are grateful for the interest in sending specialized water bombers and firefighters to extinguish some of the flames, their impact on the 10,000 active fires can’t be sustained over time.  The real heroes in this tragedy are the women and men on the ground who work every day to protect their lands — by monitoring their forests, defending their land rights, confronting illegal deforestation head on, building resilient community institutions, promoting sustainable economic alternatives, and planting trees.  This work is a critically important contribution to keeping the Amazon standing – and to tackling the climate crisis.

We stand with these brave men and women who are putting their lives on the line for their families, their culture, and for the world as we know it.

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Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Statement from the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities

Statement from the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities

Rainforest Foundation US is assisting the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities promote their statement regarding the forest fires currently impacting Brazil:

For full copy English PDF

Full copy Portuguese PDF

Full copy Spanish PDF

The Global Alliance of Territorial Communities expresses its repudiation of the misleading statements made by the Brazilian government related to the fires in the Amazon and highlights the importance of indigenous peoples and local communities to combat fires and protect the region.

Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon doubled between January and August, compared to the same period of the past year. Gray smoke is spreading throughout the country and, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it is the result of intensifying fires that affect the Amazon rainforest.

Given the accusations of the Brazilian government about the causes of the fires, the members of the Global Alliance declare that indigenous peoples and local communities have faced a series of murders, invasions and threats while protecting the forest and highlight its resistant role in order to keep the forest preserved.

The invasions of our lands and the increasing activity of miners, loggers and other illegal groups in our territories are the real cause of the increase in fires and deforestation in the Amazon, which has been stimulated by the environmental policies proposed for the region by the Brazilian government.

As guardians of 400 million hectares of forests worldwide, the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities highlights the international recognition of indigenous peoples and local communities as guardians of the land and forests of the world, expressed in the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published this month.

Indigenous peoples and local communities in the Amazon Basin, Brazil, Mesoamerica and Indonesia are represented in the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, grouped by the organizations: Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN) and Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

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Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Three Thoughts on the Fires in the Amazon

Three Thoughts on the Fires in the Amazon

Wildfires sweeping through the Brazilian Amazon have captured the imagination, sympathy and dread of the entire globe. The Amazon is the largest standing tropical forest in the world. It isn’t supposed to burn (as are many of the ponderosa pine forests in the western USA) and the fact that it is burning should strike emotions and alarm bells everywhere.

It’s more than just forest burning. The Brazilian Amazon is home to thousands of indigenous communities who depend on the forest for their livelihoods. Their way of life is threatened and often ruined when forests are cut down, burnt or both.

Here are a few key points to help understand what is happening in Brazil from the point of view of indigenous communities and what we’re doing to address the immediate threat of fires and the larger political / economic structures that brought us here.

1. Understand the political enabling environment in Brazil. President Trump was recently accused of creating an “enabling environment” for massacres driven by white nationalism in the US. The same could be said for President Bolsonaro, who has given a tacit green light to cattle ranchers and agribusinesses – long covetous of lands held by Brazilian indigenous communities – to invade and threaten their territories. Ranchers and agri-business operators are burning their own fields to clear the way for more pasture or new crops, and if the fires escape into adjoining forest areas, it’s of little concern to them.

Remember that Bolsonaro was elected by a right-wing nationalist groundswell, much like the one that elected Donald Trump in the United States. When foreign NGOs hurl critiques at Bolsonaro, it only strengthens his message that outsiders are being paternalistic with Brazil and he alone stands for Brazilian self-determination. He has flatly stated that he would like to open the Amazon for development. This is what it looks like: raging fires smothering the Amazon jungle and regional cities.

We feel that two broad strategies will be successful in the current political environment in Brazil: First, support on-the-ground organizations in Brazil that are actively defending territories from invasion, deforestation and fires. Second, follow the money. Investigate the big companies that are getting rich off the Bolsonaro regime, such as large soy and beef producers, and apply pressure to them to change their practices.

2. The Amazon is becoming a tinderbox. Careless burning alone might not be so dangerous if it were not for the years of drought and deforestation that have left many portions of the Amazon more vulnerable to fire than they used to be. As more forest is cut down, less rain falls on the region as a whole and many scientists are concerned that the Amazon is approaching a tipping point, where it will not continue to trap enough moisture to regenerate and the forest will become a savanna, with massive implications for the global climate.

3. Invest Indigenous. Fires that started on the ground can be prevented on the ground. Even in the best political environments, well-intentioned policies and a rotating deck of top-down conservation strategies usually just reconfigure the terms and conditions of forest management, while the actual pressures of deforestation go unchecked on the ground.

The real solution to global deforestation comes from within the forests themselves. We at Rainforest Foundation US focus on three key strategies to provide indigenous land security in the Amazon Basin and beyond.

INFORMATION INTO ACTION – Rainforest Foundation US leverages recent advances in technology, data and networking to help indigenous communities articulate and secure land claims, take action to stop illegal deforestation and build value-added relationships with regional governments and other stakeholders.

GOVERNANCE AND CAPACITY – Strong political and technical institutions are the cornerstone of good forest governance. Rainforest Foundation US strengthens professional and political leadership necessary to sustainably manage large landscapes and influence decisions at national and regional levels.

MOBILIZING PUBLIC OPINION AND GOVERNMENT ACTION – Local, national and international actors often need pressure to do the right thing. We empower indigenous communities to build campaigns, institutions and narratives that win the hearts and minds of people and leverage the main policies and laws affecting the rainforest and its inhabitants.

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Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Fires in the Brazilian Amazon and Indigenous People

Fires in the Brazilian Amazon and Indigenous People

Like you, we are extremely concerned about the news of forest fires that have broken out across the Brazilian Amazon and what this means to the Indigenous Peoples of the rainforest and our partners on the ground.

The estimated 9,000 fires that have raged across the Brazilian Amazon affect not only our partners, the like the Yanomami, Macuxi and Wapichana, but also ordinary Brazilian citizens living far from the fire zones. Deforestation may be partly to blame as Brazilian scientists say more rainforest has been cleared in Brazil this summer alone than in the last three years combined.

Tropical forests like the Amazon play a key role in keeping our planet healthy and help us solve the climate crisis. We all must do whatever we can to put a stop to this emergency.

At Rainforest Foundation US we are in very close contact with our partners on the ground and are supporting them in their efforts to protect their territories.

We are also working with a broader coalition of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon to put a stop to any political motivation behind these fires.

What you can do to help: Support indigenous communities in the Amazon who are protecting their territories from being destroyed and fighting to protect their rights which are under attack.

Here are four projects you can support using this donate page:

1) Support Yanomami Environmental Defenders —  Yanomami communities in northern Brazil are under attack by a wave of gold miners that have entered their territory and set up illegal mines that contaminate the water and destroy the forest. Every dollar donated will directly support the Yanomami environmental defenders who protect the forest and their right to govern their ancestral lands.

2) Support the Council of Roraima (CIR) to Reforest Degraded Land— CIR represents some 20,000 indigenous Macuxi, Wapichana, Ingarikó, Taurepang, and Patamona peoples. Their homes extend over a 6,500 square mile stretch of rainforest and savannah. The CIR is constantly fighting to protect the rights of the Indigenous People it represents while also carrying out a large-scale reforestation effort on recovered or damaged lands. Replanting trees ensures forests remain humid, which in turn acts as a natural barrier against new forest fires.

3) Support Brazil’s Indigenous People’s Articulation (APIB) to Safeguard Indigenous Rights — APIB is an umbrella organization of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil that advocates and supports the country’s Indigenous communities. At this time when indigenous peoples and human rights are under threat in Brazil, APIB heps ensure the indigenous movement stays strong and effective so they can protect their territories and forests.

4) Support Community Based Forest Monitoring and Protection: Training indigenous forest monitors to analyze satellite data to identify deforestation on their territories, investigate the deforestation at the community level and then take action is an effective way to stop illegal deforestation. Your donation will help expand this work to places it is needed most through our existing network of indigenous partners, including the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon (COICA). 

The Rainforest Foundation is committed to making sure that 100% of the donations (exclusive of bank fees and other processing charges by third parties) you make through this donate page reaches these projects.

According to the most recent UN IPCC report, Indigenous Peoples are vital to the protection of the rainforest. Rainforest Foundation US is absolutely committed to supporting the rights of Indigenous communities to protect, monitor, and defend their territories.

We will keep you updated on our work with our partners in our effort to stop the spread of existing fires and preventing further outbreaks.

On behalf of our partners on the ground, thank you for your support!

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Support Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Daniela supports the overall administration of Rainforest Foundation US’s work in Peru, with a recent focus on supporting the program’s COVID-19 response. Prior to joining Rainforest Foundation, Formerly, Daniela administered the Casa Andina hotel network in Peru. She holds a degree in Business Administration and is a native Spanish language speaker.