BACKGROUND BRIEFING

Deforestation

Fighting deforestation is itself big business

From roundtables, to suspect sustainability certificates, to huge international conferences, billions of dollars have been spent trying to save our Earth’s arboreal lungs.

But what if the easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to halt deforestation was right under our nose?

Tanaru Indigenous Territory, BrazilTanaru Indigenous Territory, Brazil
© Survival International

Want to stop deforestation? Fight for indigenous rights.

The Amazon is being deforested at a rate of 22 square kilometers every day. Under President Jair Bolsonaro, it’s set to get a whole lot worse.

It’s driving climate change and threatening the survival of millions of species. Development projects, mining, logging and agriculture… all are fuelling environmental catastrophe and biodiversity loss.

But a steady pattern is emerging that’s giving many people cause for hope.

Satellite imagery now proves, once and for all, that tribal territories are the best barrier to deforestation.

Statistics back up this evidence:

– Deforestation is up to twenty times higher outside indigenous areas
– In the Amazon, areas managed by indigenous people have even lower deforestation rates than official “protected areas” like national parks

The best way to prevent the destruction of rainforests around the world is to secure indigenous peoples’ land rights.

As satellite imagery shows, indigenous reserves are the main barrier to Amazon deforestation in Brazil.As satellite imagery shows, indigenous reserves are the main barrier to Amazon deforestation in Brazil.
© Google Earth

To conclude:

The situation is dire. It’s time to start connecting the dots.

People and nature can live in harmony. If we want to ensure the survival of the planet’s remaining forests, we must follow the evidence and protect the lands of the tribal and indigenous peoples that live there.

Deforestation and climate change will affect us all, but none more so than those who call the forest home.

Stop land theft. Stop deforestation.


You can help us fight for tribal peoples and their land rights by funding our urgent work today.

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Deforestation threatens the Awá's lives, homes and livelihood, Brazil.Deforestation threatens the Awá’s lives, homes and livelihood, Brazil.
© Survival International

Case studies

The conservation threat: Baka, Congo Basin

Who are the Baka?

The Baka have lived in the forests of Messok Dja in the Congo Basin since time immemorial. They are a hunter-gatherer tribe who have a unique understanding of sustainable living and they depend on their land for survival. Biodiversity is abundant in their forests due to their vast biological and zoological knowledge.

The Baka were expert conservationists long before the word “conservation” was dreamed up.

So what’s the problem?

The Baka are being arrested, tortured and even killed by park guards simply for entering their ancestral lands. Why? Because conservationists want to turn their lands into a new national park, free from human habitation.

Meanwhile, the same conservation organizations profit from invasive tourism, trophy hunting, biofuel production and even logging and mining concessions.


© Survival International

“They’ve forbidden us from entering the forest. How are we going to live? We are going to die.” Baka, Republic of Congo

The European Commission, UNDP, USFWS and WWF are endorsing the illegal creation of Messok Dja National Park. It’s going ahead without the consent of the Baka who live there.

WWF-funded park rangers target anyone found inside the unofficial park limits. People have died and parents are struggling to feed their families without access to their main food sources. Not to mention the fact that WWF is violating its own policy, which states:

“Most of the remaining significant areas of high natural value on earth are inhabited by indigenous peoples. This testifies to the efficacy of indigenous resource management systems. Indigenous peoples, their representative institutions and conservation organizations should be natural allies in the struggle to conserve both a healthy natural world and healthy human societies.”

We’re urging WWF and others to stop this land theft and respect the Baka’s basic human rights. Send WWF an email today →

What about the Amazon?

Uncontacted Indians in Brazil seen from the air during a Brazilian government expedition in 2010. The photos reveal a thriving, healthy community with baskets full of manioc and papaya fresh from their gardens.Uncontacted Indians in Brazil seen from the air during a Brazilian government expedition in 2010. The photos reveal a thriving, healthy community with baskets full of manioc and papaya fresh from their gardens.
© G. Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

There’s irrefutable evidence that tribal territories are the best barrier to deforestation, particularly in the Amazon rainforest. Upholding the legal right to their land is also essential for tribes to survive.

Jair Bolsonaro, the anti-indigenous president of Brazil, has promised that not “a centimeter more” indigenous land will be demarcated under his authority. He’s described their land as an “obstacle to agri-business.”

Uncontacted tribes (those who have no contact with “mainstream” society) are particularly vulnerable. Unwanted contact with outsiders can wipe them out.

The loggers are ruining our forest.
Awá, Brazil

In Amazonia, deforestation is killing indigenous people by destroying the land they depend on for their survival. When their land is stolen, people are forced from their forest homes. They’re reduced from self-sufficiency to living on the sides of roads and/or depending on government handouts. Rates of disease, alcoholism, malnutrition and suicide skyrocket as a result.

Arariboia indigenous territory in the Amazon, an island of green surrounded by deforestationArariboia indigenous territory in the Amazon, an island of green surrounded by deforestation
© Survival


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h2. From Survival’s website

*  Climate change and tribal peoples report
*  Conservation campaign Q&A
*  Messok Dja Q&A
*  Parks need peoples: Why evictions of tribal communities from protected areas spell disaster for both people and nature
*  How will we survive: The destruction of Congo Basin tribes in the name of conservation

From around the web

The role of indigenous peoples in biodiversity conservation
Indigenous conservation methods


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