The Amazon: on the frontline of a global battle to tackle the climate crisis

(The Guardian, 17 Nov 2019) A diverse band of river communities, activists and academics are meeting in the heart of the rainforest to fight for the planet’s future.

On the six-hour boat ride down the Iriri river to Manolito, there is almost no other traffic and only a handful of small homes. At its widest and calmest, the vast expanse of water is a flawless mirror of blue sky and green canopy. At its narrowest and roughest, the water churns around boulders eroded into the shapes of battlements and breaching whales. Parrots fly above the treetops. Fish feast on fallen blossoms. Kingfishers perch on riverside branches while herons await their prey on midstream rocks with their wings outstretched. White and yellow butterflies stumble across the river at remarkable speeds.

It is in this idyllic setting, deep inside the Amazon rainforest, that a nascent alliance of traditional communities, climate activists and academics is re-imagining what the world’s greatest forest was, what it can be and who can best defend it.

The gathering in Manolito, a riverine community of half a dozen wooden buildings in Terra do Meio (Middle Earth), contrasts sharply with what is happening elsewhere in the rainforest. Manmade fires continue to ravage swathes of Brazilian land. Scientists say the forest must be protected if the world is to avoid dangerous levels of global heating, yet the government of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has given the green light to farmers, miners and loggers to enter the region and cut down trees. The results will be apparent on Monday, when the government releases the latest annual deforestation figures.

The forest’s traditional guardians – indigenous, riverine and quilombola (descendent of rebel slaves) communities – are expecting the worst and starting to fight back. Forging new alliances with young activists from Europe, they hope the connections will lead to more international support and greater overseas prominence for their long struggle to defend their land against invasion.

External link

The Guardian, 17 Nov 2019: The Amazon: on the frontline of a global battle to tackle the climate crisis