From Alaska to Siberia, Brazil to the Canary Islands: forests all over the world are burning.
The world’s attention is focused on the fires raging in the Amazon—nearly 10,000 fires in the last week alone—making way for livestock and agribusiness expansion. This year, deforestation and forest fires have spiked across Brazil in the wake of far right president Jair Bolsonaro’s “greenlight” to landgrabbers. US interests are also at play, with Republican lobbyists friendly with the Trump administration working with Bolsonaro to promote corporate investment in the Amazon, reports The Intercept. (Yes, right-wing governments have a terrible environmental track record, but left-wing governments aren’t off the hook either).
This is, of course, part of a larger trend: the ramping up of deforestation and destruction of other ecosystems like peatlands and savannas all over the world for commodities like soy, sugarcane, beef, and palm oil. And land use matters. Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on the intersections between land use and the climate crisis, showing that better land management—that conserves and restores ecosystems and biodiversity—is essential to mitigate global heating.
But this is about more than protecting rainforests instead of destroying them for soy to feed industrial livestock for our burgers. It’s also about blatant violations of the human rights of indigenous people and peasants who reside in and manage the world’s most ecologically important areas.
In the face of raging fires, we need to stand with frontline environmental and human rights defenders who are doing dangerous work on the ground to protect these vital rainforests—and being killed for it. We leave you with these words from the Xingu Indigenous peoples in the Kubenkokre village of the Brazilian Amazon:
“While the world prays for the Amazon fearing what can happen in the future, we’ve gathered all Xingu’s indigenous and riverine peoples and we want to say that we are going to resist for the forest, for our way of living to produce without destroying, for the future of our children and our grandchildren, [and] for the planet. So we say no to mining in our lands, no to deforestation, no more invasions and disrespect, no more pesticides in our rivers and food, no more criminal fires in the forest. We from Xingu are connected with you, all together standing for the Amazon. We are in the frontline and we need your support. Join us in this fight.”
In solidarity with indigenous environmental defenders,
Tiffani, Tanya, Christina, and Anna
P.S. Learn more about groups and movements working to change policy and practice sustainable land use in our Tackling Climate Change Through Food toolkit.
Header image: Members of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau patrol for illegal land-clearing in the protected Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau forests of the Brazilian Amazon. Photo by Gabriel Uchida / The Intercept