August 25, 2014
The Economist (print edition), 8/23/2014
In 1998 Fernando Henrique Cardoso, then Brazil’s president, said he would triple the area of the Amazonian forest set aside for posterity. At the time the ambition seemed vain: Brazil was losing 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 square miles) of forest a year. Over the next 15 years loggers, ranchers, environmentalists and indigenous tribes battled it out—often bloodily—in the world’s largest tropical forest. Yet all the while presidents were patiently patching together a jigsaw of national parks and other protected patches of forest to create the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA), a protected area 20 times the size of Belgium. Now, less than 6,000 sq km of Brazil’s Amazonian forest is cleared each year. In May the government and a group of donors agreed to finance ARPA for 25 years. It is the largest tropical-forest conservation project in history.
This matters because of Brazil’s size: with 5m sq km of jungle, it has almost as much as the next three countries (Congo, China and Australia) put together. But it also matters for what it may signal: that the world could be near a turning point in the sorry story of tropical deforestation.
Typically, countries start in poverty with their land covered in trees. As they clear it for farms or fuel, they get richer—until alarm bells ring and they attempt to recover their losses. This happens at different stages in different places, but the trajectory is similar in most: a reverse J, steeply down, then bottoming out, then up—but only part of the way. This is usually called the “forest transition curve”. Brazil seems to be nearing the bottom. The world may be, too.
August 5, 2014
Sue Branford and Nick Terdre – BBC News, 8/4/2014
“If these dams are built, everything will end,” says Lamberto Painha, one of the chiefs of the Munduruku tribe in Brazil’s Amazon region.
“That village over there will be flooded,” he points. “Monkeys, birds, Indians – we’ll all lose our homes.”
Over the last few months some 13,000 Munduruku have been protesting against government plans to build a series of hydroelectric dams that will flood part of their land on the upper reaches of the Tapajos river.
July 23, 2014
Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 7/23/2014
RIO DE JANEIRO — Despite working for seven years with indigenous tribes in Brazil that have had no contact with the outside world, the closest Carlos Travassos had ever been to any was earlier this month, when he and his team treated seven Indians for the flu.
Travassos, who is the general coordinator of isolated and recently contacted Indians for the Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs department, FUNAI, had one word for the encounter: “tense.”
Late last month, the group of seven Indians first walked into a village called Simpatia — or ‘Niceness’ — deep in the Brazilian Amazon, near the Peruvian border, in the Kampa Indian reserve in Acre state. The Ashaninka — a so-called contacted tribe because its members have had encounters with outsiders — live there.
July 30, 2013
Survival International, 07/30/2013
Brazil’s Congress is currently debating a controversial bill to open up indigenous territories for mining, dams, army bases and other industrial projects. If it becomes law, the bill would be an ‘unmitigated disaster’ for Brazil’s Indians.
Most indigenous peoples rely on their lands to sustain themselves physically and culturally. Uncontacted Indians are particularly vulnerable and without their forests intact, they will not survive.
The Brazilian constitution currently guarantees the Indians’ right to exclusive use of their land, except in extreme circumstances of ‘relevant public interest’.
June 10, 2013
BBC UK, 06/10/2013
Brazil is “on alert” over an oil spill that originated in Ecuador and is travelling downstream towards the Brazilian Amazon.
In a statement, the Brazilian foreign ministry said the navy and other agencies had been informed, and help was offered to Ecuador and Peru.
Last month, an estimated 11,480 barrels of oil leaked from a damaged pipeline into the River Coca in Ecuador.