Posted on July 31, 2023
Indigenous land rights now: Amazon Watch is protecting the rainforest
Note from the CREDO team: This August, Amazon Watch is among three amazing groups that will receive a share of our monthly grant. Funding from the CREDO community will help Amazon Watch defend this Earth-critical ecosystem and protect the Indigenous peoples who have stewarded this land for centuries.
Read this important blog post about Amazon Watch’s critical work, then click here to visit CREDODonations.com and cast your vote to help send funding to Amazon Watch to support its efforts—and the efforts of our other outstanding August grantees.
For over 25 years, Amazon Watch has worked effectively to protect the rainforest—and our climate—in solidarity with Indigenous peoples. A longtime partner of CREDO, Amazon Watch carries out campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon’s vital ecological systems. These campaigns are founded on trust-based relationships built over decades of partnership with Indigenous, forest and traditional peoples throughout the Amazon Basin.
We are at a unique moment for the Amazon. Threats posed by mega-development, extractive industries, agribusiness, and more have brought the ecosystem to its tipping point. Thanks to long-term resistance and organizing by Amazonian peoples, we still have the chance to build momentum for a turning point.
Indigenous peoples’ message is clear: now is the moment for each of us to step up in international solidarity with Indigenous Earth Defenders. So what can this solidarity accomplish today?
¡Demarcação já! Demarcation now!
With the recent change in Brazil’s administration, new opportunities are opening up for the demarcation of Indigenous territories. Demarcation is Brazil’s process of officially recognizing Indigenous lands and, in 2023, President Lula da Silva has demarcated more than 620,000 hectares. Amazon Watch is working closely with its partners to demarcate as many Indigenous lands as possible in this window of opportunity, with the goal of permanently protecting the remaining 80% of the rainforest by 2025.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognizes Indigenous peoples’ vital role as forest guardians who are integral to the solution of our climate crisis. In Latin America, deforestation rates in Indigenous territories are up to 50% lower than in other lands. Indigenous peoples also protect over 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. So the demarcation of Indigenous lands is essential to protecting the rainforests that Indigenous peoples have stewarded for centuries and, in turn, protecting our climate.
Demarcation sets a precedent. It requires that Brazilian authorities defend Indigenous territories and gives Amazonian communities legal recourse to expel industries and illegal invaders that harm their lands, waters and people. With Sonia Guajajara leading the newly created Ministry of Indigenous Affairs, there are now 14 territories advancing toward demarcation and 25 more territories to be declared. Amazon Watch is playing an important part in this process and supporting the Indigenous communities who are carrying out territorial monitoring and mobilizing for demarcation.
Demarcation in Sawré Muybu, Munduruku Territory
Sawré Muybu is a highly preserved area of rainforest in the Tapajós River Basin of Brazil. Covering over 178,000 hectares (more than half the size of Rhode Island), it is the ancestral territory of the Munduruku people and a keystone of the entire region’s ecological integrity. The Munduruku currently face intense threats to their lands and personal safety from illegal mining and logging, and from industrial development. They have documented repeated, violent land invasions and have carried out territorial monitoring and boundary-marking activities in an effort to advance demarcation in Sawré Muybu.
Amazon Watch is a close partner of the Munduruku people and has supported their autonomy and self-determination processes for years, starting with the movement against the Belo Monte mega-dam in 2011. In 2017 and 2023, Amazon Watch installed solar grid systems in Munduruku territory to provide clean, consistent power for territorial monitoring. Over the past 12 years, Amazon Watch has also provided solidarity funding for community health initiatives, Indigenous leadership, convening, security and organizing, all of which are essential to the self-demarcation process.
Since 2018, CREDO’s support has empowered Amazon Watch’s solidarity work with the Munduruku. This support has included direct funding for their self-demarcation process in Sawré Muybu and has amplified the pan-Amazon movement to permanently protect Indigenous territories.
With the Indigenous movement’s growing power to organize and with President Lula da Silva as an ally, now is the moment to secure Indigenous land rights and avert the Amazon’s tipping point. The CREDO community is advancing Indigenous rights and defending irreplaceable ecosystems through donations to Amazon Watch, supporting:
- Defense of territories against corporate threats: Amazon Watch supports efforts by Indigenous peoples to resist mining in their territories. Currently, it is working to strengthen the Munduruku’s resistance to mining company Anglo American by carrying out campaigns to keep mining out of Indigenous lands. Demarcation is one of the key tools to achieve this.
- Direct solidarity funding: Amazon Watch’s Amazon Defenders Fund supports Indigenous leaders and communities defending the Amazon. It strengthens Indigenous organizations and movements and provides direct support for their assemblies, communications, safety and security, communal economies, well-being and leadership, inclusive of Indigenous women.
- Legal defense, communications and technical support: Amazon Watch develops and supports legal strategies to uphold and advance Indigenous rights and protect Earth Defenders at risk. It amplifies the urgent call for demarcation through its network of over 600,000 international supporters and media connections to overcome political inertia.
Onward for the Amazon
Thanks to CREDO’s solidarity, Amazon Watch will continue advancing Indigenous land rights, resisting ecosystem destruction, and insisting that Indigenous voices and solutions are centered every step of the way. Together we say: Onward for the Amazon!