|Program:||Securing protection of Kayapó Indigenous Territories in the Brazilian Amazon|
In more depth...
Program Partners and PersonnelOur local partners are two Brazilian non-governmental organizations: the Associação Floresta Protegida (AFP) and Instituto Kabu (IK). AFP and IK work with Kayapó communities and interact with various levels of government including the Brazilian government agency (FUNAI) responsible for indigenous people. AFP, with an office in Tucuma, covers the territories east of the Xingu River; IK, with an office in Novo Progresso, covers the territories west of Xingu River.
Key people for this program are: Barbara Zimmerman, formerly CI's pioneering leader of the Kayapó program and now ICFC's Brazil program director; Adriano Jerozolimski, manager of AFP; and Luis Carlos Sampaio, manager of IK. We are very fortunate in having highly dedicated and energetic staff at these two partner NGOs.
ICFC is one of several organizations involved in this program, the others being Conservation International (CI) with past support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Brazilian NGO Instituto Socioambiental, Curuá Energy, and the Wild Foundation. ICFC and EDF alone support and work with the two Kayapó NGOs (AFP and IK), with ICFC playing the lead role at present.
We are happy to report that Conservation International has established a US$8 million trust fund, Fundo Kayapó, to be administered by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) within their Fundo Amazónia. This trust fund will begin operation in 2012 and will support long-term conservation of Kayapó lands and the associated Kayapó NGOs. This will relieve ICFC of some of our required financial support for the Kayapó program.
The Kayapó village of Metuktire, seen from the air.
Figure 1. The Xingu River Basin is shown as the lime green area (Brazil turquoise).
The Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon in Brazil, begins in the semi-deciduous forests and woodland-savannas of Mato Grosso state and flows north for 2,700 km across varying topography before ending in the wet forests of the Amazon near Belem. The Xingu spans major tropical biomes from savanna (cerrado) in the headwaters of the south to semi-deciduous and evergreen wet canopy forests of the southern, mid- and northern regions. More than 20 linguistically differentiated indigenous cultures that hold millennia's worth of ecological knowledge are found in the forests of the Xingu.
During the last four decades, the Xingu has been subject to increasingly intense deforestation as the agricultural frontier inexorably expands north and west. An "arc of fire" constituting the highest rate of deforestation in Brazil and indeed, one of the highest in the world, sweeps across the region. This process of colonization and agricultural expansion, often accompanied by violent land conflict in the lawless frontier, follows road construction, especially the perimetral framework of national highways.
With adequate roads and suitable soils, the Xingu has become an important centre for cattle production (occupying the greatest tracts of land and by far the greatest driver of deforestation), logging (almost all illegal) and production of soy bean for export. Dozens of towns have sprung up along roads to support frontier activities and hundreds of thousands of people depend on the frontier economy.
While this tsunami of forest destruction threatens to engulf the region, an enormous 28.8-million-ha network of protected areas (including both ratified indigenous territories and conservation areas) secures protection in law of 56% of the Xingu basin. This protected areas corridor is the great hope for conservation of multi-landscape scale tracts of southeastern Amazonian forest with all its magnificent richness of biodiversity, indigenous cultures and ecosystem services. Indigenous lands of the Xingu are of particular importance because they occupy two thirds of the protected areas corridor and possess de facto protection services — their indigenous inhabitants. Over the past three decades, indigenous territories have proved formidable barriers to forest destruction (Figure 2; see also Nepstad et al., 2006. Inhibition of Amazon deforestation and fire by parks and Indigenous lands. Conservation Biology, 20: 65-73).
|Figure 2. Satellite image of Kayapó lands and most of the Xingu Indigenous Park (to the south) showing plumes of smoke rising from burning of primary forest remnants outside of the Indigenous Territories. Dark green areas are indigenous lands and light brown areas are ranch and agricultural land.|
However, outside pressure on Kayapó lands continues to increase. If borders are not well monitored in this lawless region of weak governance, ranchers, colonists, fraudulent land developers, commercial fishermen, loggers and gold-miners inevitably invade protected areas. If they cannot gain clandestine entry, loggers will buy off certain members of indigenous communities to obtain access to the rich timber stocks on their lands. When they lack information and sustainable economic alternatives, indigenous peoples are vulnerable to outside pressure to liquidate their resources.
Large infrastructure projects are an increasing threat in the region, with two major developments in 2011. The mining company Vale S/A is developing a nickel mine at a site located about 30 km north of Tucuma. The mine will catalyze immigration to the region and increase outside pressure on neighbouring Kayapó lands. At the same time, a major hydro dam named "Belo Monte", owned by the Brazilian national electric company Eletrobras, is under construction some 800km upriver from Kayapó lands in Para. This raises concerns about the inevitable desire of Eletrobras to expand energy production by building additional dams, moving into Kayapó territories. Strengthening the capacity of Kayapó institutions, protecting their boundaries, and developing sustainable income alternatives becomes even more crucial in the face of encroaching large-scale industry.
The Kayapó for the most part have been able to protect their lands from invasion and occupation by ranchers and exercise control over access to resources (timber, gold, fish) on their lands. But government support for these protected areas is tenuous and the over the past decade NGOs have played a crucial role in bringing about monitoring and control of reserve boundaries, law enforcement, building of local institutions and necessary infrastructure, and developing sustainable business enterprises for communities. Our Kayapó program builds on these efforts.
Conservation significance of Kayapó landsThis effort amounts to conserving the last remaining large, intact native forest region of the southeastern Amazon, and maintaining the connectivity of this ecoregion with the western Amazon. This has huge benefits in terms of protecting biodiversity, mitigating climate change and preserving the crucial role of Amazonian forests in driving climatic factors that produce rainfall for agriculture, nature and human life over a much larger geographic scale.
Kayapó territories are large enough to protect large scale ecological processes. It is known, for example, that very large areas are required for preservation of tropical tree species because species are usually very sparsely distributed. Most tropical tree species depend on co-evolved animal vectors for pollination and seed dispersal across large inter-individual distances — small areas do not contain enough individuals or viable animal vector populations for regeneration of many forest tree species over the long term. The intricate web of interdependence among Amazonian species requires large areas for these ecosystems to function and persist.
Kayapó lands remain reasonably undisturbed. Large-bodied game species (including large cracids, lowland tapir, and white-lipped peccary), which are preferred by local peoples throughout the Amazon are abundant within the hunting range of Kayapó communities. Protected lands in the region safeguard a full complement of disturbance-sensitive wildlife and an entire vegetation transition from open savanna (cerrado) to close-canopy forests, along with endangered and threatened species (Table 1).
|Table 1: Threatened vertebrate species found in the Xingu protected areas corridor, with IUCN Red List designation.|
bearded saki monkey (Chiropotes satanas utahicki) Critically Endangered
giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) Endangered
hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) Endangered
white-whiskered spider monkey (Ateles marginatus) Endangered
Near Threatened or Vulnerable species:
Kayapó lands and the contiguous Xingu Indigenous Park to the south protect more than four hundred kilometers of the Xingu river from degradation by deforestation, pollution and over-fishing. Preliminary surveys indicate that as many as 1,500 fish species inhabit the Xingu River. Fish are the most important source of protein for local people of the Xingu. Sixteen species of fish are considered endemic to (i.e. only found in) the Xingu.
[>] See also the Wild Foundation's page on Kayapó Culture and History.
The protected lands of the Kayapó Indigenous Territories, outlined in black.
PurposeOur Kayapó program has the central goal of enabling the Kayapó to continue to protect their lands from deforestation. Key objectives are:
- Develop a system of regular monitoring of border integrity and threats to Kayapó territories, and provision communities for surveillance and territorial boundary demarcation;
- Strengthen the capacity of the Kayapó and their institutions for territorial control and sustainable management of their natural resources.
- Establish sustainable economic enterprises to advance economic autonomy of all Kayapó communities.
- Facilitate communication and cooperation among Kayapó communities to enable them to act in concert to protect their land and interests;
- Inform Kayapó communities about opportunities for long-term financing of their conservation efforts: (1) through the creation of an endowment fund spearheaded by Conservation International; and (2) through the developing voluntary market in REDD (reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation) carbon credit trading; and involving the Kayapó in related decision making.
Actions and Results
Territorial surveillance and boundary demarcationSince 2007 ICFC has provided surveillance infrastructure to Kayapó communities, which has greatly facilitated surveillance activities. The first measures included boats and radios, and a 4X4 vehicle to survey a 150-km section of road accessible border. In 2009 we organized and performed overflight surveillance along the entire western and northwestern borders of Kayapó lands — a flight of approximately 600 km. More surveillance flights were conducted in 2010, revealing an illegal gold-mining operation and clandestine air strip, which was subsequently removed. We also organized an operation by Kayapó work parties to clear the Rio Branco river (an area vulnerable to illegal fishing) and improve access for surveillance.
We facilitated meetings of Kayapó leaders with the municipal government of Novo Progresso, which led to the opening of a regional office for FUNAI, the Brazilian agency responsible for Indigenous people. FUNAI has legal authority for removing invaders and enforcing indigenous rights, and its presence in the area will contribute greatly to territorial control.
We organized two capacity-building workshops for "Voluntary Environmental Agents". These were funded by a grant from the "Demonstration Projects for Indigenous People" (PDPI) and taught by Ministry of the Environment personnel to young men from twelve villages. Participants learned techniques for approaching invaders, recording observations, interpreting maps and satellite images, and using GPS devices, computer entry of data and management of garbage in villages. In 2011, Kayapo trained these courses undertook riverine surveillance expeditions of Bau. These expeditions resulted in the discovery of illegal goldminers, who were expelled, and in increased knowledge of remote areas.
Community coordination, information and capacity building
Instituto Kabu negotiation with FUNAI for highway impact compensation package.
In 2009 and 2010, we held meetings in various communities to explain and consult about the potential of REDD carbon credit funding to support conservation of Kayapó forested lands. A consensus was reached in support of pursuing this.
Instituto Kabu (IK) negotiated a compensation package from the government to compensate and strengthen territorial control by the western Kayapó after the paving of the BR-163 highway "opens floodgates" to colonization and deforestation along their border. From 2009 to 2012, IK facilitated a series of meetings of Kayapó from two villages with federal and municipal government agencies, resulting in inclusion of the communities in government health, education and indigenous rights services.
Our partners continue to work with representatives of various government ministries on initiatives relating to preservation of indigenous culture (including a proposal for equipment and training in photography and filming), agriculture (preservation of traditional cultivar varieties), and storage facilities for Brazil nuts at villages. In 2012, two workshops on ethnomapping were conducted for 37 researchers from 29 Kayapó villages, strengthening a collective understanding of Kayapó identity and territory.
One result of discussions with municipal governments has been to adapt the Brazilian school lunch program to be ecologically and culturally appropriate for Kayapó schools. Traditional foods for the school lunch program will be purchased from community members, instead of non-traditional food being imported and transported to Kayapó communities at great cost.
Capacity building efforts are increasingly focused on responding to large infrastructure projects being developed on the margins of Kayapó lands. In 2011, the Kayapó and ICFC's project partner AFP participated in the development of an Environmental Plan for the "Onca Puma" nickel mine owned by Vale SA, which is located about 30 km north of Tucuma. Given concerns that the environmental impacts of the mine and immigration of workers to the area will increase outside pressure Kayapó lands, Vale agree to provide Kayapó with funding over a 10-year period. Funding will mitigate the effects of the mine by supporting environmental restoration and conservation, as well as initiatives to strengthen Kayapó cultural identity and fortify their boundaries. This new contribution from Vale will reduce funding needs from ICFC.
Information sessions in 2011 and 2012 focused on large infrastructure projects and their future impacts on Kayapó lands and culture, and especially the Eletrobras Belo Monte dam and potential expansion into Kayapó territory.
Sustainable economic developmentActions were taken to improve economic options and income in the communities by better organizing production and processing of non-timber forest products, identifying potential new products and markets, and adding value through certification.
ICFC and our partners follow these basic principles in helping the Kayapó develop sustainable economic enterprises:
- all members of the community must benefit from the enterprise;
- the enterprise must be linked directly to conservation (a community will not receive outside support if engaging in liquidation of natural resources or other illegal activity);
- the enterprise must be designed around normative aboriginal values of equity, cooperation, and reciprocity achieved by consensus and common-property access; rather than relying on western normative values of competition, exclusive rights to resources, and centralized management authority.
In 2007, we conducted a pilot project with the Kendjam community to assess the feasibility of a form of small-scale ecotourism in which the community hosted a sportfishing expedition on the Iriri River for paying visitors. The project was a success from the perspective of both the community and the visitors.
Since 2009 we (through our two Kayapó NGO partners) have developed markets for copaiba oil (an aromatic resin tapped from trees), Brazil nuts, babašu palm oil, cumaru seeds and cocoa . We arranged participation of 10 Kayapó from three communities in a workshop on "Harvest, Production, Storage and Commercialization of Tree Seeds". We also worked with an independent NGO (Imaflora) to acquire FSC certification for non-timber forest products and assist in negotiation with buyers.
Tree Seed Workshop
In 2012, the inaugural Kayapó Traditional Seeds Exchange Meeting marked the largest event ever organized by our project partners. It was a great success, attended by more than 1000 indigenous people from 16 different ethnic groups from 59 villages, 31 of which were Kayapó, as well as by representatives of government and civil society organizations.
Business as a result of these efforts is growing: in 2011, 420 kg of baba u oil was collected and processed by Bau community and purchased by two UK based cosmetics companies, and 4 tons of cumaru nuts were exported to France in 2012. Four Kayapó communities achieved the first commercial seed production of cumaru (used for fragrance) in 2012. A total of 6099 tonnes were sold, generating revenue of approximately US$122,000, paid almost entirely to women, who dominate agriculture and collection of these products around the villages.
Brazil nut operations have been especially successful. We helped communities find buyers, obtain a low-interest loan, and negotiate the sale of their Brazil nut harvest. We also helped local FUNAI staff at Tucuma obtain state funding for needed warehouse facilities for storing Brazil nuts, which was completed in 2012. This was crucial in mid-2012 when Brazil nut prices fell and nuts could be stored for sale before Christmas when demand and prices are highest. In 2010, sales of over 100 tons of Brazil nuts produced revenue of over US$200,000; the harvest was steady in 2011 and 2012.
Our cocoa enterprise launched in 2011-2012. The government's Commission for Cocoa Plantation is providing technical assistance and 30,000 hybrid seeds for Kayapó families to begin planting cocoa in their fallow gardens. Excellent markets exist for cocoa in Brazil.
In 2011, we established and registered a Brazilian Cooperative through which the Kayapó can sell their forest products and handicrafts. ICFC is also assisting Diane Pinto who has established a Kayapó women's cooperative called The Kaypo Project for import and sale of the unique beaded bracelets made by Kayapó women. We also assisted Instituto Menire in its work with the community of Pukanu on an enterprise that produces art works including painted fabric and panels and traditional beaded pieces.
Further infoNational Geographic photo essay on the Kayapo and the Belo Monte Dam
Video on conservation of Kayapó lands —
Since this video was made, ICFC has become the lead supporter of the Kayapó conservation
effort (and program pioneer Barbara Zimmerman is now with ICFC). Conservation International,
which made this film, played a key role in the development of this program and was instrumental in
setting up a Brazilian trust fund to provide long-term partial support for conservation of
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