Status – Recognised Indigenous Territory Forest Guardians established since 2014
The Borarí Indigenous group came only recently to this remote territory, in which the Arapiun had been living for centuries. They were fleeing poverty from Alter do Chao, a predominantly Borarí land, about 30 kilometers to the west of Santarém, the capital city of the Lower Tapajós, in the Brazilian Pará. They went along the Arapiuns River right up to its headwaters and, from there, they followed the course of the small Maró River, which gives the territory its name. The group is rather small, about 300 people spread over 3 villages: Novo Lugar, Cachoeira do Maró, and Sao José. But the territory is large: some 42.000 hectares of primary forest – that is, intact, never cut-down Amazonian forest.
The Indigenous Land Maró, says Dadá, in addition to providing sustenance, hosts sacred places, fresh water sources (known as igarapés) that flow into the Maró river, herbs and medicinal plants and, above all, it is the place where Curupira dwells.
The concept of Curupira can possibly be translated as “the protective spirit of the jungle”- although its meaning for the natives is much deeper, and enigmatic. As a sacred entity, its magical powers ultimately determine what ends up happening to those who get into the jungle. The mission that the Indigenous people have is to respect and protect the jungle and, in so doing, they respect and protect themselves.
To an inexperienced observer, the whole Amazonian forest may look the same, but there is a fundamental difference between a virgin forest such as this and a forest which has been exploited.
In the first phase of logging, the trees that hold the most valuable tropical timber – quoted in international markets – are felled.The second phase consists in exploiting the remaining wood. And the third and last phase is the total elimination of vegetation, generally for purposes related to industrial agriculture or extensive livestock farming. Even though its possible that the jungle can recover in due course the space that has been destroyed, the original biodiversity is extinguished forever and the carbon stored released.
You don’t have to be in the forest to join the fight.