This is a moment to share a thought for all the people around the world who are putting their own lives at risk in the struggle to save the last remaining rainforests, be it in the Amazon, Indonesia or Congo.
Paulo Adario, who heads up our Amazon campaign, may not be your archetypal hero (we’ve never seen him don tights), but we’re proud to announce that he has just been awarded the honour of “Forest Hero” by the UN. He’s not one to tout his own accomplishments, so we’re going to tell you more about Paulo’s work, as he receives his award today at the United Nations ceremony for the Year of the Forests in New York.
Paulo Adario’s career of Amazon protection is an inspiration to all of us and proof of what can happen when one person decides to take action.
His story in the Amazon began with his decision to move, in the mid-1990s, from Rio de Janeiro to Manaus – the capital of Amazonas state. It was here he built, from scratch, the Greenpeace campaign to defend the Amazon Rainforest.
Leading a field team focused on research and investigation, Adario’s work exposed the timber industry as the first in a number of drivers of destruction in the Amazon rainforest.
In 2001, he led a skilled field team into the Amazon to assist the Deni tribe to demarcate and protect their own land, resulting in the official protection of 1,6 million hectares of pristine forest. Adario also introduced new concepts, such as the ‘Green Wall’ to describe the network of protected areas necessary to stop the northern encroachment of industrial development, and ‘Zero Deforestation’ – a set of political, social and economic initiatives aimed at eliminating deforestation while ensuring the improvement of living conditions for people living in and from the forests.
Following a campaign on illegal logging, which led to a moratorium in 2003 on the international trade in Mahogany, the impacts of Paulo’s work attracted death threats from forest criminals across the Amazon.
Despite this, he persisted and went on to create bilateral agreements with international and industrial companies to halt the illegal destruction of the forests for soya crops and cattle ranching. The resulting Soya Moratorium and cattle industry agreements are still in place today.
Paulo has pioneered a campaign to protect the Amazon - from boardroom meetings with industry leaders to field expeditions deep into the Amazon, to the co-ordination of international public campaigns to expose forest destroyers and demand sustainable solutions.
These photos tell just a small part of Paulo Adario’s story in the Amazon and an important part of our story in Brazil over the last 20 years. Join the party- leave your congratulations in the comments section and I will make sure Paulo sees them all.
Join Paulo in taking action for the Amazon – Tell Dilma to veto the new Forest Code!
Jess Miller is a communications coordinator for the Amazon campaign