International Plant Preservation

Up-to-date news on Amazon "forest guardians" and floating gardens around the world.

Photo by Getty Images/FG Trade

Amazon “Forest Guardians”

Covering over 2 million miles of South American land, the Amazon rainforest is crucial in a variety of ways. The ecosystem produces roughly 6 percent of the world’s oxygen and acts as a carbon sink. The more than 40,000 total plant species provide medicine, food, and materials (such as rubber) to the world, as well as play an active role in regulating ecosystems well beyond the rainforest’s borders.

The Amazon rainforest is also home to indigenous groups. Some of these groups, such as the Guajajara tribesmen, patrol the forest to protect it from illegal logging, which not only threatens their homes, but also the critical eco-functions performed by the forest. The guardians work in relatively small groups, patrolling at night to find illegal camps and equipment, which they destroy. This may sound harsh, but these men are often the only ones working on the ground to limit illegal deforestation on Araribóia indigenous lands in the Maranhão state.

This is dangerous work, as the illegal loggers have nothing to lose by fighting back and are often well-funded by anonymous entrepreneurs.

On November 2, 2019, Paul Paulino Guajajara was killed by illegal loggers who ambushed him while he was going about daily chores for his family. He was the father of young children and was working to preserve a better way of life for them.

Amazon tribes have a lot to worry about with the pace of deforestation on their lands. Legal and illegal deforestation reached an all-time high in August 2019, and almost 3,900 square miles of forest were lost last year alone. This is an increase of 29.5 percent from the previous year, equivalent to about two football fields of clearance per minute.



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