Defence through law
AmazoniAlerta is a start-up, non-governmental organization (NGO) that works with traditional peoples and communities in the Brazilian Amazon to proactively strengthen the legal defense of their lands and rights. In doing so we support local communities in their mission to protect the Amazon rainforest.
Empowering Amazonian communities to legally defend their lands and rights is both an ethical imperative and one of the most effective tactics in mitigating the illegal deforestation of the rainforest.
Two facts about the deforestation of the Amazon:
First: More than 90 per cent of the deforestation of the Amazon is illegal, caused by myriad small-scale land grabs and infractions by illegal loggers, miners, poachers and farmers whose collective actions decimate the forest.
Second: Indigenous communities are the most effective guardians of the forest. Despite being constantly subjected to these territorial violations, Indigenous lands remain the least degraded within the Amazon.
Protecting the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforests and one of the last, great, wild ecosystems, is the collective duty of all humanity. It is home to 15% of the planet’s biodiversity and the socio-biocultural wealth of countless traditional peoples. As a major carbon sink, the rainforest is also a critical global resource in the fight to mitigate climate change.
AmazoniAlerta combines community-based action with legal expertise to proactively strengthen the legal defense of Indigenous lands in the Amazon.
Community-based action: In partnership with local communities AmazoniAlerta forms and manages Indigenous teams of environmental agents who patrol and monitor areas within their territories that are especially vulnerable to invasion, exploitation and deforestation. The partols and expeditions serve a dual purpose: to deter invaders and to identify and gather evidence of land violations and environmental crimes.
Legal expertise: AmazoniAlerta is led by experienced Indigenous rights lawyers and Indigenous lawyers who work with our local environmental agents to maximize positive legal outcomes from their operations. We report significant illegal activities to local and federal law enforcement and lobby for action to stop them. Furthermore our legal team deploy actionable evidence in legal actions, domestic and international, to defend Indigenous lands, rights and the rainforest.
Images taken during the recent law enforcement action against an illegal logging operation in Araribóia Indigenous Land that was initiated by evidence gathered and lobbying by local AmazoniAlerta Environmental Agents. Illegal saw mills and machinery was destroyed in the operation and timber seized.
AmazoniAlerta Operations in Araribóia Indigenous Land
Since the spring of 2022 our operations have focused on key areas within the Araribóia Indigenous Land in the state of Maranhão, Brazil. The territory is legally recognised by the Brazilian government as ‘Terra Indígena’ (TI) meaning the indigenous people who have traditionally occupied it have exclusive right to the use and occupation of the territory, a right enshrined in Article 231 of the Brazilian Constitution. The territory is home to the Guajajara People and the Awá People. Their lands are amongst the most invaded and vigorously defended indigenous lands in the Amazon.
The Araribóia Indigenous Land sits on the eastern edge of the Amazon Rainforest biome. The deep green of the territory seen in the satellite image denotes thick forest cover. The areas surrounding the Indigenous lands have clearly been largely deforested for agriculture.
In late 2022, during the final months of the Bolsonaro government, AmazoniAlerta made its first formal submission of evidence of land and rights violations, gathered by Indigenous team members, to an international legal body, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) based in Washington. The evidence was submitted by partner Indigenous rights organizations in support of IACHR’s Precautionary Measure no 754-20, mandating the Brazilian Government to fulfill its legal obligation to protect Guajajara and peoples living in the Araribóia Indigenous Land.
Early in 2023, evidence and lobbying by an AmazoniAlerta Environmental Agent initiated a major law enforcement action conducted by multiple Brazilian government agencies against a major illegal logging operation in Araribóia Indigenous Land. The action was led by The Federal Police in Maranhão, with support from the National Institute for the Environment (Ibama), National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples (Funai), Civil Police, Military Police and Maranhão Military Fire Brigade (CBMMA). Over 80 government agents destroyed two illegal sawmills, seized chainsaws, other machinery and firearms and arrested over 40 suspects. Prosecutions are ongoing.
Building on these early successes we recently expanded our team of AmazoniAlerta Environmental Agents in Araribóia Indigenous Land.
As well as generally patrolling and monitoring territory to prevent and detect illegal land invasions and deforestation, our team of Environmental Agents are also specifically operating in an area where uncontacted Awá People are known to live, aiming to contribute to the protection of their territory and the preservation of their uncontacted state.
Our work in Araribóia Indigenous Land in 2023 is funded primarily by the Rainforest Fund and private donors.
Based on the success of operations in Araribóia Indigenous Land, AmazoniAlerta plans to work with communities in other regions within the Brazilian Amazon and facilitate the formation and operations of further groups of Environmental Agents acting to protect their lands and the rainforest.