When Megaron Txucarrame was a child half a century ago in the heart of Brazil’s Amazon, he never saw anyone who came from beyond the rainforest. Today, as one of the leaders of Brazil’s Kayapó people, Megaron is on the CI board of directors and his community defends its 11-million-hectare (or 27.2-million-acre) homeland from an onslaught of destruction driven by modern economic forces.
The Amazon forest is increasingly threatened by fires burning huge areas for agriculture production. Logging, gold mining and dam construction are other major threats. Because deforestation is one of the leading causes of climate change, this loss of rich tropical ecosystems impacts people the world over.
CI and the Kayapó have been partners in creating solutions to protect the forest since 1992, working alongside Brazilian organizations including the Kayapó Nongovernmental Organizations’ Protected Forest Association and Raoni Institute and the Federal Indian Agency, FUNAI.
Young Kayapó are learning to effectively monitor their territory’s 2,000-kilometer (1,243-mile) border. CI is providing technology and training, along with transportation, fuel and communications equipment to facilitate border surveillance.
VIDEO: The Kayapó Nation.
While protecting their homeland, the Kayapó also need economic independence in the face of pressure from a modern global economy. CI and partners work with the Kayapó to create small businesses that will allow them to utilize their forests to earn income while still conserving them. Brazil nut harvesting has long been a Kayapó tradition, and today processing Brazil-nut oil for commercial distribution is under way in several Kayapó villages. Other small enterprises being developed or expanded are based on non-timber resources such as copaiba oil, cupuaçu cupuacu fruit, honey, cocoa and mahogany seeds.
ARTICLE: Powerful Allies in the Amazon.
CI is also implementing international university-level field courses in tropical biology and conservation to sustain an ecological research station in one Kayapó community. To ensure the Kayapó have the financial support to continue to protect their homelands, CI’s Global Conservation Fund will provide matching funds toward establishment of a $10 million Kayapó Protected Forest Trust.
LEARN: Read more stories of community partnerships and successes.