Porto Velho – New data from forest monitoring and overflights[1] conducted by Greenpeace Brazil, the Karipuna Indigenous People and the Brazilian NGO Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), exposed a new wave of forest destruction on the Karipuna Indigenous Land in Rondônia, Brazil. The deforestation converts rainforest into pasture for cattle and paves the way for the expansion of soy farming on former cattle pastures. 850 hectares of illegal deforestation were detected in the last twelve months within the territory[2]. The massive land grabbing and big scale destruction of protected rainforest are putting the survival of the Karipuna Indigenous People at risk.

Adriano Karipuna, leader of the Karipuna Indigenous People, said: “The forest monitoring, we Karipuna do, help us to understand what happens inside our land and is crucial for denouncing these illegal activities. The state must implement a permanent protection plan for our land, aiming to put an end to the land grabbing.” 

The increased invasions into protected areas by criminal groups can be seen as a direct result of a new law[3] approved by the Rondônia parliament in April 2021, reducing two protected areas directly connected to the Karipuna Indigenous Land by more than 225.408 hectares. Furthermore, the regional government plans to change the ecological zoning[4], transforming pristine rainforest into agricultural land, with devastating consequences.

Laura Vicuña, a missionary with CIMI Rondônia, who has worked closely with Indigenous Peoples for 23 years, said: “The climate crisis begins here, with Indigenous territories being looted and Indigenous People being attacked while a negligent and conniving government does not fulfill its role to protect our people and natural resources. To mitigate impacts of the climate emergency, governments must increase protected lands instead of shrinking them.”

The forest monitoring revealed large clear-cut areas of over 100 hectares in the southeast of the Karipuna land, where the remaining vegetation was set on fire to make space for cows. Cattle ranching in the municipality of Porto Velho, where the land of the Karipuna is located, increased by 87% in the last nine years. In parallel, soy production in the state of Rondônia, has tripled in 10 years and competes with the existing agricultural production of cattle on converted forest land.[5] Industrial animal farming in countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Mexico, Italy and the UK – counting for over 80% of Rondônia’s soy exports[6] – are co-responsible for this race for suitable land for soy, which in return pushes the cattle deeper into the rainforest and invades protected areas and Indigenous lands. This destruction is also fueled by a mega-infrastructure project building new roads, rails and ports – the Northern Corridor – which is increasing the logistical capacity in Rondônia to transport soy from the Amazon to the global market, primarily the EU and China. 

Oliver Salge, Head of the All eyes on the Amazon Project at Greenpeace Brazil, said: “While the world must find solutions to the climate emergency at the upcoming COP26, the Brazilian government does exactly the opposite and enables criminals to invade protected areas and destroy the home of Indigenous Peoples. The EU and other international markets are complicit in this disaster by consuming soy and meat without strong sustainable criteria. To make sure the Paris Agreement is taken seriously, political leaders must pass, monitor and enforce laws, such as the EU law to protect the world’s forests and ecosystems to guarantee Indigenous and community land rights, all of which are vital to save the Amazon rainforest and the world’s climate.”


Photos of the overflight are available in the Greenpeace Media Library.


[1] The forest monitoring took place between August and September 2021. In the period from 2019-2020 the deforestation measured within the Karipuna Indigenous land has been 589 ha in 12 months, while between August 2020 and July 2021 850 ha of deforested land have been detected, which is an increase by 44%. 

[2] The Karipuna Indigenous Land is located 100 km southeast of Rondônia’s capital Porto Velho, and is 152.000 ha in size. It is surrounded by cattle farms and has been invaded and deforested since 2015. In total over 5000 hectare of rainforest have been cut within the Indigenous land. The Karipuna People have worked in partnership with CIMI and Greenpeace since 2017 to perform forest monitoring, which resulted in a legal case against the state of Rondônia and was delivered to the Federal Court in Rondônia by the Karipuna leadership in May 2021.

[3] The law no. 1089/21, approved by the Rondônia Parliament in April 2021 and ratified by Governador Marcos Rocha in May 2021 reduces the State Park Guajara-Mirim of 50.532 ha and the Resex Jaci Parana of 174.875 ha – bigger than the size of all National Parks in the Netherland together (165.000 ha).

[4] The ecological zoning law (80/2020) was approved in September 2021 by the Rondônia parliament, the ratification of the law by governor Marcos Rocha has not yet happened.

[5] The soy production  in Rondônia tripled in the last 10 years from 111.000 to nearly 400.000 hectares in 2020. Although the Soy Moratorium is in place for the Brazilian Amazon region, not all the area planted with soy is monitored by the Moratorium due to minimum size per municipality (5.000 ha), the Rural Land Registry (CAR) is not transparent making it difficult to identify all farmers involved with deforestation after 2008 and indirect effects between expansion of soy and the expansion of cattle ranching into the rainforest is not controlled by the Moratorium.

[6] Comexstat data for the year 2020 incl. grain and processed soya products. Data for 2021 until September: 80% of the soy exported from Rondônia was exported to Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, Mexico, Algeria, France. 

Media Contacts:

Christine Gebeneter, International Comms lead for the All eyes on the Amazon project at Greenpeace Central- and Eastern Europe: +43 664 8403807, [email protected]  

Oliver Salge, Head of the All eyes on the Amazon project at Greenpeace Brazil, +55 11 970 997674, [email protected]

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), [email protected]