The river basin at the centre of Latin America called the Amazon is approximately the same size as the whole of Australia. Created at the beginning of our planets’ history by the conjunction of tactonic plates, it is the remains of inland seas and continental lakes. For the last few million years, this part of the Earth has been so dense with water, that its been covered with a unique and pristine tropical rainforest responsible for a fifth of our oxygen, housing 400 billion trees and storing centuries of carbon and solar heat.
In the last 50 years, about one-fifth of this forest, or some 300,000 square miles, has been cut and burnt in Brazil alone. Deforestation has released so much carbon that it has negated the forests’ qualities as a carbon sink, the world’s largest after the oceans. Many scientists have warned for decades that such a process will trigger a feedback loop that can cause all the forests to drie out and and burn at an alarming rate, beyond the reach of any human intervention. The prognosis of how far we are removed from this cascading scenario is beyond our knowledge and different experts have different theories. However, one thing is certain, it is very important to protect what’s left of the forest and even set up projects for reforestation, inside Brazil and outside of Brazil. But to do so, climate activists and experts need governments on their side.
In 2019 alone, the amount of forest fires doubled since the inauguration of the country’s new president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro continues a far right political tradition in Brazil that predates the country’s 1964 dictatorship and favors authoritarianism over the vulnerability of the Amazon, by opening up large patches of rainforest for financial gain, putting the fate of the original owners of the land in the hands of a racist who has no interest for human rights. The result of this is that so called land-grabbers are working their way deeper and deeper into the Amazon and indigenous territories to cut down trees and cultivate the land for agriculture and cattlefarming. In order to cultivate the land, it is common practice to set the forest on fire, especially during the dry season. Jair Bolsonaro denies having anything to do with these practices, but the government isn’t doing anything to stop the farmers from unrightfully taking indigenous land, to stop the brutal killing of indigenous elders and activists and to extinguish these devastating fires.
To stop the further spread of what doesn’t seem to be an accident, voluntary fire fighters are currently working at the frontlines in the Amazon to battle the fires started by cattle farmers and evangelists, often putting their own life in danger. The members of Brigada de Alter are painfully aware of the importance of the rainforest and keeping our connection to the natural environment in tact. Many people around the world are watching closely at what is happening in Brazil, possibly feeling powerless towards a development that could bring the entire human species in danger. For the sake of our future and those of our children we at Sinchi Foundation find it important to support the people of Brigada de Alter and the indigenous populations fighting for their lives. We organized a fundraiser which raised 1100 euros to buy equipment for the voluntary fire brigade in Brazil, mainly operating in the most affected areas of ALTER DO CHÃO FOREST.
Here’s the heartwarming statement we received from those in charge of the Brigade de Alter after receiving our donation:
” Thanks to sinchi foundation and to all the helps we receive we were able to collect the necessary found to accomplish the course and to graduate new Brigade members in a very appropriate moment as just few days after the course we were called to take action to fight a big fire which started on September 14th in the APA Alter do Chão/Amazon area.
With the hard work of our volunteers along with the Fire Fighting Department, Military Police, Governments, local Civil Institutions and Organizations the fire is extinguished for now (which doesn’t mean less alert during the summer season).
The help came in many ways – some people supported with money donations, some with their time and work sharing information, some providing water and juice for the Fire Fighters in the front line, some encouraging us with words of strength and gratitude!
We have accomplished our target raising the founds to purchase equipment and definitely our work will be more powerful from now on. And this happens because you are with us. But, after days of intense combat, we are tired and in need of dedicating ourselves to our families.
Soon, we will submit our accounts, think about the strategies of the resources management and make everything absolutely clear for you.
Please, follow us in the social media @brigadadealter as the support team for communication will be updating with news and telling a bit how was the collective action on September 2019.
We thanks once again Sinchi Foundation for your collaboration and now that the fire is controlled for the moment (we are going through the dry season and we keep ourselves ALERT) and after a quick rest for our brave volunteers, we will get together to organize future operations, always keeping the transparency e with your support.
IAA . Instituto Aquífero Altér do Chão.
If you want to support the cause, please go to the website and make a donation to Brigada de Alter directly: http://brigadadealter.ga/en/
Picture was taken by photographer and member of the Xakriabá tribe Edgar Kanaykõ.