Indigenous tribes in Brazil are forming “brigadas” (brigades) to fight forest fires on their lands, often caused by loggers, land grabbers and hunters.
It’s an initiative funded by the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) that was expanded earlier this year to fight fires during the Amazon dry season from July to November. Each “brigadista” receives training and a monthly salary.
Indigenous reserves account for around 13 per cent of Brazil’s national territory and protecting them is considered vital in the fight against climate change.
So far, officials say the “brigadistas” initiative has been a success, reducing the number of fires, while providing livelihoods based on conservation on a very cost effective basis. However, the future of the project could be in jeopardy depending on the results of Brazil’s elections, scheduled for the end of October, with far right anti Indigenous and climate change skeptic Jair Bolsonaro the front-runner.
I was with Ibama last week and visited an Indigenous territory where the brigades work in the state of Maranhão, one of the worst affected by forest fires and illegal logging that has lost 75 per cent of it’s Amazon forest cover.