I’m Amanda Magnani, a Brazilian (photo)journalist and OptOut News’ climate editor. This week, our newsletter is a bit different, as I write to you from Indigenous communities in the Brazilian Amazon, where I’m working on a series of solution-based stories about local sustainability initiatives. ✨🌿
This week's newsletter was produced with support from the Amazon Rainforest Journalism Fund (Amazon RJF) in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.
So let’s get started!
First things first, let’s begin with an important reminder: Indigenous peoples are key to protecting our planet from the disastrous consequences of climate change.
In countries like Brazil, where deforestation hit record highs under the previous president, Jair Bolsonaro, Indigenous lands had the lowest percentage of logging—and almost all of it came from invader farmers and illegal miners.
Around here, land demarcation (boundary making) is the main demand from the Indigenous movement, as this process grants them the right to the land, therefore giving them a chance to preserve it.
In the Amazonian region of Serra da Lua, where I currently am, Indigenous lands have been demarcated in an “island format,” meaning they are small and surrounded by monoculture plantations.
Still, in these communities, Indigenous peoples embrace their ancestrality in modern initiatives that can show the way to save the forest and fight climate change.
This week, Indigenous DJ, communicator, and activist Eric Terena joined me in the state of Roraima to document some of these initiatives. If you have been here for a while, you may remember him from our first “Global South Corner.”
As I write to you, we have visited two communities: Tabalascada and Novo Paraíso. Before the week is over, we still have a couple more communities to visit.
Our first visit was to Tabalascada, the community that actually inspired this entire project after I had the chance to visit it last year during the first turn of Brazil’s presidential election on assignment for The New Humanitarian.
Like in all the communities we’re visiting, the residents of Tabalascada develop many different initiatives, but here, our focus was on their sustainable pisciculture. With the surrounding plantations draining much of the water in the area and using heavy pesticides on their crops, the nearby creeks are drying, and the fish that remain are compromised. Mining across the state discharges mercury into the rivers, and that mercury has already reached Serra da Lua.
Fish, alongside manioc (cassava) flour, is the basis of the local diet, so residents of Tabalascada started a community tank to grow animals that they can actually eat without risking their health. The members of the community association share the profit from sales, and during celebrations they donate and cook the fish for everyone.
Tabalascada is also an amazing example of a circular economy. As the local tuxaua (chief) César, of the Wapichana people, told us, the residents buy and sell most of the livestock and produce cultivated in the community among themselves.
Meanwhile, in the community of Novo Paraíso, we had the chance to visit family farms, as well as the community farm and a preserved area. Unlike other communities in Serra da Lua, where the vegetation is similar to the Savannas, Novo Paraíso is in the middle of the tropical forest.
In fact, as we had lunch at tuxaua Maria’s house (like tuxaua César, she is also Wapichana), we had the chance to hear the loud singing of the guariba monkeys. You can hear it (but not see them, as they were a bit far away) in this short video.
Novo Paraíso is an important cassava flour producer, and the community is currently implementing their Territorial and Environmental Management Plan. That means defining lands that can be cultivated and preserved areas. Because in some places Native forests have already been cut down previously for cultivation, the focus of the plan is to encourage residents not to log more of the native vegetation but rather to keep working on these other areas.
During our visit, we got to see how the flour is made, and we even got some as a gift, along with a huge banana bunch and a pineapple, all from tuxaua Maria’s family farm.
That’s all for now, folks!
If you have any questions or suggestions, hit me up at email@example.com.
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