The Boa Foundation’s Covid Relief Fund
The horrors of Covid, devastating floods and a destructive four year presidency have had a desperate impact on the Brazilian Amazon rainforest and her people. Alarmed by what we were reading and having had the incredible opportunity of getting to know various members of the Huni Kuin as well as one of the founders of The Boa Foundation we decided to support this non profit organisation. The Boa Foundation work “in alliance with indigenous communities to preserve and protect sacred land, culture and ancient wisdom” supporting “projects including strategic land buybacks, restoration of native ecosystems, cultural exchange and sustainable living solutions.
In 2021 we made our annual donation to The Boa Foundation’s Covid Relief Fund. In 2022 and now once again in 2023 we have made our annual donation to The Boa Foundation’s Amazon Fund. This fund has been set up to assist the communities in the Brazilian Amazon to include the Ashaninka, Huni Kuin, Yawanawa and Kayapo groups. It is the hope that they can support each village’s autonomy and sustainability through these challenging times. The money we have donated will go towards materials needed to allow for greater independence (such as fishing equipment, chicken coops, tools to work on their crops and items specific to each communities needs) so that they can plant and harvest their own food.
If you would like to make a donation to this The Boa Foundation charity please click here.
Hope for the Brazilian Amazon
The Amazon made headline news in 2019 for being on fire but these fires rage on. All of them are de-forestation practices, none of them are accidental and the loss is incalculable. The Amazon is unparalleled in biological and ecological value, home to about 390 billion trees and more than 16,00 plant species (that are known of!) not to mention millions of animals. It is the world’s most important eco system and as we all know it plays a critical part in global carbon cycles and therefore climate change.
The active de-forestation policies and outspoken anti-indigenous attitude of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro is mind boggling. He put economic growth before the well being of the Amazon and her people and systematically dismantled Brazil’s environmental policies. The Amazon contributes $8.2 billion a year to Brazil’s economy from products including rubber and timber.
Bolsonaro has said “there is no indigenous territory where there aren’t minerals. Gold, tin and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest are in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians.” The Indian’s he is referring to are the 900,000 indigenous population of the Amazon.
As you can imagine Bolsonaro’s government offered no support to the indigenous people during the Covid pandemic however in the Brazilian elections of 2022 Bolsanoro lost his position of power (by a narrow margin) and on the 1st January 2023 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as the 39th president of Brazil.
Unlike his predecessor Lula has made it clear that saving the rainforest is top priority and he has pledged to revitalise those efforts this go-around. This is not his first time in office, Lula previously served as the 35th president from 2003 to 2010 and deforestation went down by nearly 75%. However, the scenario that he faces is very challenging. He inherits a decimated environmental and environmental ministry departments and he will certainly have a very small budget to fight deforestation. Lula also faces a Congress that is quite conservative and who on the whole are quite pro the development of the Amazon. There can be no doubt that the Amazon and her people need him to succeed. We wish him the very best!
We recognise that Earthmonk’s contribution is a drop in the ocean but hopefully with us all pulling together we can make a difference!
The Huni Kuin
The Huni Kuin people, also known as “Kaxinawá” or “true people,” (from huni, “people”, and kuin meaning “true.”) live mostly in the Brazilian Amazon Basin. Their lands extend to the foot of the Andes in Eastern Peru. They are the largest indigenous population in the Brazilian state of Acre, currently living on twelve indigenous reservations along seven different rivers.
We have had the privilege of meeting, sitting and joining in with the chants, healing and incredible musical talents of some Huni Kuin elders that have visited Europe. You might recognise the photo above, which went viral on social media and was used in some newspapers, when they prayed for the Amazon rainforest outside the Brazilian Embassy in London back in August 2019! Here you can see the pajés in their traditional ceremonial clothes and headdresses.
What can you do?
Faced with the enormous global problems the world faces right now here are a few ideas on how you might like to play a role in supporting the Amazon:
- You could donate to one of the frontline NGO’s working to defend and protect the amazon and her people. This could be The Boa Relief Fund, Apoti, The Rainforest Action Network (who run Protect An Acre grants), the Rainforest Trust, Amazon Watch (who are working on behalf of and with the indigenous people) or most famous of all the WWF.
- You could become a regular monthly contributor to an organisation and keep the donation going all year round. Any money counts but some organisations have special dedicated donor schemes. The Rainforest Alliance for example, have the Canopy Associates programme for anyone contributing more than $1000 where special events, webinars and other exclusive benefits are offered.
- Stay informed and sign up to the WWF. They will keep you up to date on conservation work, fund-raising and campaigns. Here’s the link: https://www.wwf.org.uk/fight-climate-change/thank-you
- Don’t let the media move on and the Amazon rainforest become old news. Use your voice – put the Amazon in your social media feed. Share posts, tag new agencies and influencers. Help to keep her headline news.
- Whilst many of the fires have been set to clear land for agribusiness large areas are often burned to access trees for felling or to create access to other areas of the forest. Reducing the amount of paper and wood we use is a good way to help reduce commercial pressures on the Amazon, as well as other forests around the world.
- Think more about the food you buy. Shop locally and support your local businesses. Cattle ranching accounts for about 80% of the forest being cleared in the Amazon. An area the size of Ireland has been cleared for growing soybean! As far as possible avoid highly processed foods. Eat a more plant-based diet (you’ll live longer). Moderate your meat quota – even dropping meat from your meals two to three nights a week could make a huge impact! Read the label and know where your food is coming from to limit its carbon footprint (buy seasonal food locally sourced!), keep your eyes peeled for Fairtrade, Freedom Food (animal welfare), MSC & ASC (seafood) and in anything to do with palm oil the RSPO logo is a must.
- Be a conscious consumer. Buy less, recycle, repair and upcycle. Shop smart and waste less. Look out for labels such as GOTS, FSC, Fairtrade, Okeo-Tex, Carbon Reduction Label, Soil Association, Vegan, Rainforest Alliance (the green frog) so that you know the goods you are been sustainably or ethically sourced or at least made with respect for the planet and her people. Try to reduce your single use plastic consumption. Do some homework and check out blogs, articles, magazines and social media feeds that can give you tips and ideas on how you can shop more consciously. Use ethical platforms such as https://ethical.market and https://www.ethicalconsumer.org (where we rank second for ethical ‘alternative clothing shops’)
- As a consumer you have purchase power. You also have the power to lobby, protest, campaign and sign petitions calling the government to action. When it comes to voting remember that we need leaders who understand the urgency of our climate crisis and are willing to take bold action—including strong governance and forward-thinking policy.
- Our dear friends Trudy Goodman and Jack Kornfield, the mindfulness master of Insight LA and Spirit Rock often speak of ‘loving awareness.’ In recent conversations with them Jack said that whilst we live in challenging and turbulent times the most important thing that we could all do as individuals was to “quiet the mind and tend the heart.” That by tending our souls and looking within to heal, rector and balance we could all make a positive impact on the world and therefore collective force with the universe.
So that’s 9 ideas from us. Maybe a couple of them will resonate with you?
Past projects in the Amazon rainforest
If you are interested to know more about our past ventures in the Amazon with the Shipibo communities of Peru then read on…