Saving Tropical Rainforests
The rainforest holds answers to questions yet asked Local Surinamese expression
The Amazon is the greatest tropical rainforest on the Earth. The largest in size, the Amazon contains one in ten species on the planet and one half of the world’s fresh water. It is a land of superlatives, where greatest exaggeration falls short of eclipsing the reality of its grandeur and significance to human life.
Scientific studies confirm that indigenous peoples are extremely knowledgeable and responsible custodians of their environment. Tribal peoples understand and value tropical rainforests because they are dependent upon it. This relationship extends beyond a utilitarian reliance; there is spiritual link to the forest, a sense of interconnectivity, difficult to comprehend through the compartmentalized Western mindset but one no less real. It is not a coincidence that the remaining tracts of pristine tropical rainforest in the Neotropics overlap with areas of indigenous inhabitation.
The Amazon is the greatest tropical rainforest in the Earth. It is the source of terrestrial biodiversity.
It is estimated that 95 tribes went extinct in Brazil alone in the past century. In the 21st century, a handful of tribes still live in its most remote reaches and are completely dependent on the forest. The tribes that have emerged from these areas face staggering odds and adversity. They do not hope to maintain a state of existence frozen in time, but to adapt and survive in a manner that offers them self-sufficiency and a future for their people. These tribes often suffer greatly and face deep generational divides; cultural erosion, depression, high rates of alcoholism and suicide all plague their communities. The remote tribes of the Amazon remain as among the most marginalized peoples in the Western Hemisphere.
The Matses inhabit some of most remote tropical rainforests in the world. Divided across the vast expanse of the Amazon and the countries of Peru and Brazil. Across the river into Brazil, part of their territory lies within the Valle do Javari Indigenous Reserve, which contains the largest number of uncontacted groups remaining in the world. The Matses inhabit the heart of the Amazon Rainforest – an area of staggering natural beauty and almost inconceivable biodiversity, but a land deeply troubled and under threat by narco-traffickers, multinational petroleum companies, and loggers. It is one of the last true frontiers.