The Arctic Sunrise campaigning for the extractive reserves in 2003. The announcement by the Brazilian government to create 2 million hectares of extractive reserve is a major victory for our campaign.
We have been working with the local communities of Para State
for four years for the formation of the Verde Para Sempre
Extractive Reserve. This is part of our work in the Amazon
supporting the establishment of a network of protected areas in the
Middle Land to stop increasing deforestation led by cattle and soya
farming. The recent presidential decree has protected two million
hectares of the Amazon forest by creating the Verde Para Sempre and
Riozinho do Anfrisio extractive reserves.
Protecting a way of life
Last year we had two ships in the area where local communities
and forest are being destroyed for profit at any cost. It is a
lawless frontier where greed, corruption, slavery and even murder
are common place as loggers and ranchers trash the forest for short
term profits. Along with local people we confronted the powerful
forces behind the destruction such as mayors of the region who also
own logging companies. Realities such as this mean unsustainable
development and environmental destruction go hand in hand with
human rights abuses and the total disregard for law and order.
The communities living in the region have been fighting to
change the situation and want to preserve this forest, its rivers
and the life that depends upon it. Extractive reserves are
protected areas cooperatively managed by the local communities for
low-impact activities such as rubber tapping, vegetable oil
extraction and small-scale logging. They must include fully
protected areas, guarded by the communities themselves.
Maria Luisa, who lives in this region, says they have been
fighting for this dream for four years.
"Life here was very healthy. We used to live from our hunting
and fishing. I get very sad when I start remembering how it was and
how it is now. There wasn't greed, everybody used to live on the
land, and everything belonged to everyone."
Their traditional lives changed when loggers and local
authorities began invading public and community lands in the
region, exploiting timber illegally in a predatory manner and
aggressively attempting to displace the local rural
"Many times I am afraid of dying," says Maria Luisa. "They come
with guns, knives and I get afraid, but at the same time, I am not.
Why? If I was born to fight for my people, for life, if my destiny
is to die, I will die for it. I will not stop before all these
injustices, to let things go because I am afraid. I am not
well as our work in the region almost 19,000 people answered the
call to help these local people achieve their dream of the
protected reserves by writing to Brazilian President Lula to urge
him to create the reserves.
Now Maria's dream has been realised and all this hard work has
resulted in a major victory for the Amazon. Our Amazon coordinator
is in party mood: "We are extremely happy with Lula's decision to
protect the Amazon and the forest people who live here. It's time
to celebrate. The legacy of Chico Mendes has been honoured. With
this decision, the Brazilian Government has shown that the future
of the Amazon is not in the hands of illegal loggers or soya and
cattle farmers. It is in the hands of social justice, environmental
protection and the sustainable use of natural resources by the
Our work to protect the Amazon continues and you can find out
all about our
expedition to Para State last year including ships diaries, beautiful
images, slideshows and animated
explantations of the threats to the forest.
Right now we are trying to protect a different type of
deep sea trawling is destroying the ecosystems at least as
diverse as the Amazon and we need your
help to stop it.