Rose: The Amazon Does Not Burn

Bom Dia!

There have been so many enriching cultural experiences in Brazil. Since I last wrote, I have been to a Palmeiras football match, played capoeira, learned the basics of multiple sambas, visited countless museums displaying artistic expressions of indigenous and Afro-Brasilian histories, I met a woman who my grandma hosted in the 80’s, whose son made us dinner and who is doing her doctorate in how slavery indirectly lead to widespread illiteracy and how this has shaped modern society; and our group has visited and been welcomed by indigenous, Quilombo, Landless Workers’ Movement communities and organisations and the willingness to open up to our group, demonstrate their forms of resistance and vulnerable but powerful culture is heart-warming and has led to tears with nothing left to give in these reciprocating exchanges.

I want to talk about IPAM, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute and Ane Alencar, the director of science who spoke with us. This woman was so passionate in her line of work it was inspiring. She went against the grain of the specialist ecologists while she was still a student at University. Spending time in the Amazon she started to notice purple patterns emerging on the forest floors and after mapping the pastures that these existed in, she realised it was actually standing forest that catches fire – even though apparently the Amazon did not burn. Importantly, this sentiment has stuck in certain political spaces.

Ane Alencar has a drive to seek knowledge, educate others and create public policies that, if implemented could reduce the human induced harm to our ecosystem. To have such a specialist be able to have a conversation with our group that went in the direction of all of our interests, and centred on the overriding power of Brasil – Politics – helped me to link all my learnings from my degree in Psychology and Environmental Science and from being here in Brasil talking with Anthropologists, Historians and leading members of respective communities and organisations. Politics is inextricably linked with science and this is beginning to make more sense than ever.

Despite contradicting accusations, traditional ‘slash and burn’ indigenous practices are accountable for 1% of the total fires, while 40% occur through farmers trying to land-grab and make quick profit from land with no governance. Illegal deforestation, with no one held accountable … except apparently the indigenous peoples.

Asking IPAM about the lack of indigenous peoples in their team lead to a realisation that this was something missing from the voice that the NGO forms. It was acknowledged that a space should be created for this voice to be heard, just as the youth and women have been prioritised in the movement so far, and this was particularly special to me. I have learnt so much from these interactions and always the lines of communication are still open; we leave these meetings with contact details to keep questioning, keep generating knowledge and keep resisting and I hope that is exactly what our generation continues to do.

Ane Alencar (IPAM) & UoA

Tchau for now,

Rose

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