Brazilian shaman’s visit – ‘Buying rainforest won’t save it’

STOP PRESS

July 9, 2012

Following Survival’s publication of this news story, Cool Earth has asked us to clarify that it does not in fact buy rainforest land.
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The visit to London by a renowned Yanomami Indian leader from Brazilian Amazonia will throw a spotlight on the increasingly exaggerated claims of organisations engaged in schemes to ‘buy the rainforest’, after he condemned the idea as ‘useless’.

  • Press conference: 11am, Tuesday 16 October, St Ethelburga’s, 78 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AG.
  • Photo opportunity: 3pm, Tuesday 16 October, Westminster Green (opposite Houses of Parliament)
  • Visit to 10 Downing Street to deliver a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown: 12 noon, Wednesday 17 October

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, shaman and winner of the UN Global 500 award, is coming to London with his son to launch a new report by Survival about the crisis in indigenous peoples’ health. ‘Progress can kill’ details for the first time how separation from their lands leads to the physical and mental breakdown of tribal peoples. It will be launched at the House of Commons on 16 October. Davi will then travel to Germany to talk to senior politicians there.

Speaking about the desperate health situation of his people, Davi argues that the only way to save the rainforest is to save the Indians, by recognising their land rights:

‘You napëpë (whites) talk about what you call ‘development’ and tell us to become the same as you. But we know that this brings only disease and death. Now you want to buy pieces of rainforest, or to plant biofuels. These are useless.

‘The forest cannot be bought; it is our life and we have always protected it. Without the forest, there is only sickness, and without us, it is dead land. The time has come for you to start listening to us. Give us back our lands and our health before it’s too late for us and too late for you.’

Growing concern about global warming has led to an increase in organisations buying up areas of rainforest, often claiming that it can help offset carbon emissions. One of the best known is Mayfair-based Cool Earth, set up by millionaire businessman Johan Eliasch and MP Frank Field. It urges the public to ‘protect an acre’ for £70 and would like it to believe that this will help contribute to ‘saving the world’.

But new research from Survival reveals that more than 162 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest have already been secured – through their protection as indigenous territories. This is over 15,000 times more rainforest than is involved in the Cool Earth scheme.

Research by Brazilian and US scientists shows that the most effective way to stop logging in the Amazon is to protect Indian lands, which occupy one fifth of the Brazilian Amazon. But the lands of many tribes remain unprotected.

Biographies and background information on the Yanomami are available here. 

For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]