New Study Finds Indigenous People help Thwart Deforestation in Brazil
According to a recent study, Indigenous people and their lands have helped foil deforestation in Brazil over the past three decades. The study says the satellite images display how the indigenous community is slowing the destruction of the Amazon.
According to a report by MapBiomas, a project among environmental groups, universities, and startups, only 1.6 per cent of indigenous land was lost out of the total of 69 million hectares lost in the past 30 years.
The study also found that around 70 per cent of the deforested area was on private land.
Tasso Azevedo, the project coordinator, said: "The satellite images leave no doubt that Indigenous peoples are slowing the destruction of the Amazon. Without Indigenous reservations, the forest would certainly be much closer to the ‘tipping point’ at which it stops providing the ecological services with our agriculture, industries, and cities depend upon.”
This study and several other recently published studies indicate that protecting indigenous lands is one of the best ways to avoid damage to native forests.
Brazil has around 13.9 per cent indigenous reservations occupying its territory, covering 109.7 million hectares of native vegetation. That is close to one-fourth of the country's total.
The Bolsonaro government has been heavily criticised over its policies against indigenous people.
Indigenous tribes and their representatives were in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, recently to demand more protection for their lands and urge the government to give up proposed laws that would allow officials to destroy the rainforest.
Much of the destruction is due to farming and land speculation in Brazil. Around 60 per cent of the Amazon rainforest is situated in the country.
Raoni Rajao, a professor of environmental management at Federal University of Minas Gerais, said: "The fact that we are already at a record high and actually [seeing] numbers that are usually to be expected mid-year – when it is drier, and it is actually easier to access the forest and do some damage – is indeed worrying."