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.
Top: AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano