212-431-9098 info@rrffny.org



For over 25 years the Rainforest Foundation has been
working to protect the rainforest in Brazil

This is where the Rainforest Foundation began, fighting for the land rights of the Kayapo people–a fight that led to the protection of 6.7 million acres of rainforest and the recognition of these acres as the ancestral lands of the Kayapo people.

For 30 years the Rainforest Foundation has been working to protect the rainforest and secure land rights for Indigenous communities in Brazil. Back then, few understood the connection between protecting indigenous land rights and protecting the rainforests.

Today it’s clear: respecting the rights of Indigenous communities to their ancestral lands isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the most effective way to protect our rainforests.

Brazil has almost four times the tropical rainforest cover of any country in the world. Sadly, year after year it loses more and more of the forest to cattle ranching, soybean farming, logging, and mining. Lands managed by indigenous communities, however, remain some of the healthiest and most biodiverse in the country. By helping Indigenous communities protect their homelands we also ensure that the rainforest will be there for future generations.

Brazil Facts

57.2% rainforest cover
Most biodiverse country

Indigenous Communities

Are 1% of the population
252 indigenous peoples

Known Species

3624 animals
56,000 plants

Our Work

Started working in 1989
Began with the Kayapo
Today: Raposa Serra do Sol

Featured Partners

CIR  Indigenous Council of Roraima

Help Indigenous communities
protect their lands & help us
protect the future!

In 2015 the deforestation of Brazilian rainforests
increased by 16%–but forests controlled by indigenous
communities remained protected.

Protected indigenous lands suffer from 12 times less
deforestation than areas outside indigenous territories. As a
result, community forests are healthier and more robust,
storing 44% more carbon per acre than unprotected areas.

Make a difference

Just $5 saves an acre of Rainforest!

Our Partners: The Communities of Raposa Serra do Sol

Raposa Serra do Sol, a vast 6,500 square mile stretch of rainforest and savannah, is home to nearly 20,000 indigenous Macuxi, Wapichana, Ingarikó, Taurepang and Patamona people, represented by the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR). For over thirty years, the indigenous peoples of Raposa Serra do Sol struggled to gain legal recognition and protection of their traditional lands. After years of hard work and passionate advocacy, these indigenous communities gained formal recognition of their territory in April of 2005. They continue face fierce opposition from ranchers, rice and  growers and miners, who have an economic interest in the traditional lands of the indigenous people and frequently benefit from close ties to local politicians.

This powerful and organized opposition has used violence and intimidation to suppress the efforts pushing for demarcation. The strength and determination of the communities of Raposa Serra do Sol, however, have made it an emblematic case for indigenous rights in Brazil and beyond.

How It All Started…


Almost thirty years ago Sting had an idea, that helping indigenous people to protect their home would also protect the rainforests. Today we know that indigenous communities protect the rainforest more effectively than anyone else.


Joênia Wapixana (Joenia Batista de Carvalho) is the first indigenous woman elected to the Chamber of Deputies (the Brazilian Congress), the first indigenous lawyer in Brazil and a recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award in 2004.  She is also a  Rainforest Defender, placing her life on the line to defend her community and save our forests.

Against incredible odds in a country where indigenous youth rarely have the opportunity to complete High School, Joênia put herself through law school, becoming the first female indigenous lawyer in Brazil. Fueled on by her determination and sense of justice, Joênia dedicated herself to fighting not only for her family but for the whole indigenous population of Roraima. “I use the knowledge I acquired to benefit those from my community who didn’t have the same chance to study.”

Like many other community leaders, Joênia’s dedication puts her at personal risk, making her a target for those who oppose the rights of indigenous peoples of Roraima. Yet it is precisely this climate of intimidation and impunity that Joênia fights to change, as fearlessly and determinedly today as when she stood up for her family as a young girl.

Joênia continues to fight tirelessly for her community, defending their interests in court cases at both the local and national levels, as well as at the Inter­-American Commission on Human Rights. In addition to representing and offering legal council to her fellow indigenous people, Joênia has also taken up the role of teacher, leading community workshops to educate people about their basic human rights.

“From an early age,” she recalls, “whenever I saw discrimination against my father or mother or brothers, I would always go in front and fight for them, which would scare them, but I wasn’t afraid.”

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