The Amazon Burns as Indigenous Women Take a Stand

Updated on August 27, 2019
The use of slash-and-burn farming technique in Ceará, Brazil contributes to the already mass scale deforestation in the Amazonian forest.
The use of slash-and-burn farming technique in Ceará, Brazil contributes to the already mass scale deforestation in the Amazonian forest. | Source

The Lungs of the Earth Are on Fire

The Amazon is burning, creating massive deforestation. Brazil is sending their army in to help deal with the fires. The international community is outraged that the policies of Brazil's conservative president, Bolsonaro, opened up the Amazon to clear-cutting, farming, and mining, which created this crisis.

The Amazon is home to over a million indigenous people who are the original caretakers of the rain forest. While the farmers and loggers cut down trees to plant crops or take lumber, the natural and diverse life that exists in the tropical rain forest of Brazil are dying off.

Slash and Burn

Farmers burn the forests around their lands to create growth-rich soil to plant new crops, but their fires destroy wildlife and the forests themselves. They must move to more fertile land each time the land loses its nutrients from the last time they grew crops, so another part of the forest is "slashed and burned" to create more fertile land for new crops.

This process is depleting the rain forest, and the indigenous people of the Amazon are losing their ancestral home. The smoke causes a humanitarian crisis, and the indigenous people lose their habitat and are forced to recoup or to go to work for the same people that took their old way of life.

Indigenous People's Response

The indigenous people have sent in native women who are demanding that the rights of the indigenous tribes that call the Amazon their home be respected and that the forests be protected against commercialization and corporate greed.

In the words of Nemonte Nenquimo, the leader of the Waorani community:

"Today, as women, we are on the frontlines, it is no longer only the men! As women, we are uniting to protect our territories from destruction, and we are demanding that the governments respect our rights . . . As women, we share the same vision, we want to continue organizing and uniting so that our cultures, our ancestral knowledge and our right to life be respected. We are fighting in the face of the enormous threats to our lands and lives. We want our forest to be free from contamination, free from destruction."

What Can Be Done?

The rain forest of the Amazon is a vital part of the Earth's life system. The massive tropical forest creates oxygen, and it contains the biodiversity of so many creatures, even unknown species; it's so large that it creates its local climate system. There has to be a balance in place; regulations must be laid down and followed so that the forests never cease to exist and the balance that is the ecosystem not tip into the abyss. If we fail to heed then it stands to logic that the Earth may swing into an ecological disaster that it will not recover from.

The indigenous natives will continue to be pushed off their lands, forced out by the destruction of their forests. This will create a massive displacement of these people and another crisis will have begun. The natives want the world to leave them and the life of the forest in peace. If our modern societies will leave the Amazon alone then the ecosystem will recover and the forests and the indigenous people's forest home will flourish.

Questions & Answers

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      • Ken Burgess profile image

        Ken Burgess 

        2 months ago from Florida

        Its issues like these that make me favor the idea of international bodies having control and authority that trumps National governments.

        A decision to make the entire Amazon a protected area that is excluded from deforestation is required, and only an International body that has the ability to enforce such, is capable of ensuring it.

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