After recently returning from my travels in Peru, I was appalled on the news of the ever growing deforestation of our greatest forest on earth, that is being stripped down of her liberty and prestigious treasures. The Amazon rain forest is over a ‘billion acres’ and produces ‘more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen’ (Raintree 2012) and with the current and growing corruption and Brazil’s short-sighted government, the forest is under dangerous threat of deforestation.
Not only is the Amazon under great threat but the communities whom live among the forest are pleading for protection and the rights of their home and land. The Amazon is so large that it encompasses and spans over nine countries in South America, the most common area of illegal deforestation is communities amongst the southernmost of Lábrea in Brazil. According to Gulf News (2014) over 160 families in these communities have been ‘driven out by loggers and farmers, whom have cleared 300 hectares of land’ and now it’s happening to the neighboring area of Riozinho. Gulf News (2014) states that ‘gunmen come in the middle of the night and force the people to sign documents to hand over their land, stating that they receive compensation in return, but in truth they are left with nothing’. The battle to save their communities and stop logging comes at a cost, if a member protests or speaks out they are brutally beaten, threatened and abused (Gulf News 2014). On Monday 8th of September, an outspoken Peruvian protester, Edwin Chota was found dead along with three native Ashaninka community leaders whom were brutally slain according to The New York Times (2014) on the remote suburbs of Brazil. The activist was renowned to have for several years ‘expel illegal loggers from their lands and seeking title for his community’ (Aljazeera 2014), corruption has lead the operation of illegal loggers ‘with impunity and stripping the Amazon from prized hardwoods, mahogany and tropical cedar’ according to Aljazeera (2014).
Brazil alone has had 90 indigenous Amazonian tribes destroyed since the 1900’s, ‘along with their accumulated knowledge of medicinal value of rain forest species’ (Raintree 2014) and with them, homelands are continuing to be destroyed and the rainforest people are disappearing.
Although in recent events, more than ’20 members of an isolated Amazonian tribe have made contact with Brazilian authorities’ with growing fears that they are being ‘driven out from their forest by illegal loggers or drug smugglers’ (The Gaurdian 2014). See here: Amazon Tribe Makes Contact. The tribe located within the Peruvian border is seeking protection from their government, as deeply concerned forest protection groups and Indian leaders ‘are deeply troubled that nothing has been done’ (The Gaurdian 2014) and that the tribe has come to this extent despite their ‘reluctance to make contact to the outside world’. According to Stephen Corry (The Gaurdian 2014) leader of Survival International, “the accounts given by these Indians – of the killing of their relatives, and the burning of their houses – are incredibly disturbing”.
According to recent studies published within the Wall Street Journal (2014) ‘commercial agriculture’ is the blame for ‘almost half of illegal clearing’ and that the Washington-based NGO; Forest Trends correlated that ‘49% of the deforestation between 2000 – 2012 was illegal companies to meet a global commodity for soy, palm oil and beef’. Within this study they also suggested that countries such as ‘Europe, China, India, Russia and the US are the key drivers for the illegal deforestation’ and that ‘25% was cleared for produce of agricultural exports valued at $61 billion a year’ (The Wall Street Journal 2014). This has grown to be a national debate, with many Green Peace NGO’s pushing for action. The South American governments have either ignored the past pleads or distracted their people from the nightmares within their borders, but with the rising global attention on this international matter the Brazilian government has finally initiated an action plan. Since June 2014, deforestation has ‘dropped 70% since 2005’ (VOX 2014) due to a nation wide operation and a first for Brazilian government as BBC reports:
Still there is much uncertainty surrounding this fragile affair, not only is the Amazon at stake but countries such as ‘Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia, Angola and espicially Indonesia’ (VOX 2014) have also been a growing in illegal logging. But will this operation be a continuous effort for the Brazilian government or any other government? Why hasn’t other major governments supported this action earlier, especially in the above mentioned countries outside of Brazil? Did they need to see a growing rate of local families, beaten or murdered to finally take action? My biggest question of all, how is burning down illegal sawmills and machinery eradicate the dangerous behaviors exemplified by illegal loggers and their sort, its sad to see that the only way to stop deforestation is to action it with more violence. Wouldn’t burning down machinery be just as harmful to the rainforest? And in most recent events to ‘help preserve their way of life’ the Ka’apor tribe has taken brutal action in tracking down and beating illegal loggers whom have threatened their ‘well being for years’ (Opposing Views 2014) with disturbing images captured and can be seen here: Amazon Tribe Fights Back.
The tribe took this action as their governments political ramifications took too long and their tribe’s existence was at stake. The action taken is very unlike for quiet, primitive tribes, with an ever growing threat of their well being will this behaviour grow and continue? What will this say to their future? Lets just hope the taste for blood and redemption can only be temporary.
Aljazeera, 2014, Opponent of Peru Illegal logging found murdered, viewed 8 September 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2014/09/opponent-peru-illegal-logging-murdered-2014995222652634.html
Gulf News, 2014, Dying to save the rain forest, viewed 11 September 2014, http://gulfnews.com/about-gulf-news/al-nisr-portfolio/weekend-review/dying-to-save-the-rainforest-1.1377712
New York Times, 2014, Peru Opponents of illegal Logging Found Dead, viewed 9 September 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/09/world/americas/peru-4-opponents-of-illegal-logging-are-found-dead.html
Opposing Views, 2014, Ka’apor tribe warriors fights against illegal loggers, viewed 12 September 2014, http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/kaapor-tribe-warriors-fight-against-illegal-loggers-amazon
Sky News, 2014, Amazon tribe makes contact with outside world, viewed 10 September 2014, http://news.sky.com/story/1311382/amazon-tribe-makes-contact-with-outside-world
The Gaurdian, 2014, More members of Amazonian tribe seek help from Brazil, viewed 8 September 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/14/amazonian-tribe-brazil-peru
Rain Tree, 2014, The Disappearing Rain forests, viewed 8 September 2014, http://www.rain-tree.com/facts.htm#.VBEeaU2_mUk
VOX, 2014, Brazils fight against deforestation has been a surprising success, viewed 12 September 2014, http://www.vox.com/2014/6/14/5808548/brazils-fight-against-deforestation-has-been-a-surprising-success
Wall Street Journal, 2014, Commercial farming causes nearly half of illegal tropical deforestation, viewed 1 September 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/commercial-farming-causes-nearly-half-of-illegal-tropical-deforestation-1410393662