At 10.5 million hectares, the Kayapó Indigenous Territories is by far the largest protected tract of tropical forest in the world. The willingness of the approximately 7,000 Kayapó indigenous people of Brazil to fight to preserve their land and rich natural resources in the southeastern Amazon reinforces not only the ecological integrity of the area, but also the long-term physical, social and cultural security of the Kayapó people.
Conservation International-Brazil has provided the Kayapó with the equipment, training, and financial support to manage their vast tract of territory for conservation and sustainable development, beginning its work with the Kayapó in 1992. GCF began supporting their work in 2002. The project includes a surveillance program by local Kayapó organizations in collaboration with the government Indian Agency that is monitoring 1,600 kilometers of frontier border. This improved surveillance has resulted in a greatly decreased incidence of invasion by ranchers, colonists, fishermen, hunters and non-Indian Brazil nut collectors, especially in the northeast. The Kayapó territories are rich in biodiversity and are located in the middle of the so-called “arc of deforestation”—the front line of forest destruction moving north from southern and southeastern Amazon, where approximately 80 percent of deforestation is concentrated. This frontier is characterized by violent land conflicts and the highest rate of deforestation in Brazil.
To ensure the Kayapó have the resources to manage their land over the long term, GCF worked with them to establish the Kayapó Fund, an endowment fund that will support terrestrial monitoring and protection of Kayapó land, as well as the development of sustainable economic activities for the Kayapó people. GCF, along with CI-Brazil, contributed $4 million, as well as technical expertise, to establish the Kayapó Fund, the first trust fund exclusively dedicated to the long-term support of the Kayapó people. Established in 2011, the fund is expected to reach more than $12 million, and received an additional $4 million contribution from the Brazilian Development Bank through the Amazon Fund (which expects to donate other $5 million in five years). The Kayapó Fund will be managed by Fundo Brasileiro para a Biodiversidade (FUNBIO), a nonprofit civil association focused on Brazil’s biodiversity.