Story at a glance

  • Deforestation and gold mining are two of the biggest threats to the Amazon, which is nearing a tipping point.
  • A new report contains aerial photos of the area, revealing 31 land registries fully or partly overlapping the borders of protected lands.
  • The Karipuna Indigenous people filed a lawsuit against the government for sanctioning the invasion of their land.

Aerial images of the Amazon published in a new report reveal the devastating consequences of mining one of the largest gold reserves in the world — which sits on Indigenous land. 

Earlier this month, the Karipuna Indigenous people filed a lawsuit against Brazil and the province of Rondônia, reported Greenpeace International, which analyzed publicly available data to reveal 31 land registries fully or partly overlapping the borders of the protected lands of the Karipuna Indigenous people. 

“We have been fighting against the destruction of our territory for years, now it’s time that the court holds the state responsible to ensure the protection of our home, that we soon can live in peace, according to our customs and traditions,” said Adriano Karipuna, leader of the Karipuna Indigenous people, in the release. 


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Deforestation and gold mining are two of the biggest threats to the Amazon as it nears a tipping point, after which the damage would be irreversible and the rainforest could cease to sustain itself. Indigenous people protect roughly a quarter of the rainforest, which contains between a quarter to a third of the carbon absorbed by the rainforest, but they are often left out of environmental efforts. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has increased deforestation by nearly 10 percent in Brazil, the highest rate since 2008. 

“What shocked me was the enormity of it,” Christian Braga, the Amazon-based photographer who took the recent images from a Greenpeace turboprop plane, told The Guardian. “We knew these mines existed. The whole of Brazil knows there are goldmines on Yanomami land. But we didn’t understand the true scale of it and how economically valuable these mines are. These mines are prosperous. These mines are worth millions. ... It is truly frightening. They are just huge.”


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The Brazilian Supreme Court ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to take action after a series of attacks on the Yanomami Indigenous community in northern Brazil, which led to the deaths of two children. 

 

“Enough of the genocide. Enough of the massacre,”  Alessandra Korap, a leader of the Munduruku people, told The World. “Enough of destroying our rivers and killing our forest. You need to leave. We are from here. We live here. We can’t leave and we won’t leave. The Supreme Court needs to do something urgently.”


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Published on May 28, 2021