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Home » Amazônia de Pé Campaign summons the last generation that can save the forest

Amazônia de Pé Campaign summons the last generation that can save the forest

In an interview with Mongabay, Ângela Mendes, coordinator of the Chico Mendes Committee, said: “Brazil does not know the Amazon”. It was from this need, to awaken the country to the issues that impact the forest, that the Amazônia de Pé campaign was born. 

Created by the NGO Nossas, but with the support of 250 organizations across the country, including the Chico Mendes Committee, it aims to gather one and a half million physical signatures for a Popular Initiative Bill (Plip) that goes at the heart of the question regarding the Amazon: the allocation of public lands covered by forests.

“There are 57 million hectares of public forests in the Legal Amazon, areas that suffer from the highest rates of burning, the highest rates of violence within the countryside, largely due to land grabbing.” The speech is by Renata Ilha, the campaign’s partnerships coordinator and who was directly involved in the creation of Plip.

It refers to Non-Destined Public Forests (FPND), forest areas belonging to state or federal governments that have not yet had their use decreed. In the Amazon, they correspond to 14% of the biome’s extension — equivalent to the sum of the territories of Spain and Portugal.

 According to a technical note from Ipam (Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia) dated February 2022, one-third of the deforestation in the Amazon in the last three years occurred in these areas.

Land grabbing is a long-standing term, born hundreds of years ago, and concerns the illicit acquisition of public land without authorization from the competent body and in violation of the legislation. In the old days, it was common practice to forge scriptures and place them in boxes with crickets. The animals’ feces turned the paper yellow, giving it the appearance of an old document – ​​which seemed to “legitimize” ownership of the property.

For land grabbing to happen today, says Renata, it is even simpler. All you need is a computer with an internet connection:

“In the Bolsonaro government, people go to a website and register the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) in huge areas, often over fifteen hectares – making clear the profile of who is behind it. This is not a traditional population or a producer family”.

It is important to say that the allocation of public forests had already been foreseen as legislation previously in Brazil in 2006, with the Public Forests Law, but – according to Renata – the law did not “stick” because it did not specify what the term “purposes” meant. of conservation” nor established deadlines for the destination.

“In Plip Amazônia de Pé, we advance in these two points. We are saying that ‘conservation purposes’ comprise: Conservation Units, indigenous territories, quilombola territories, and small rural producers who have occupied, in a sustainable way and for at least four generations – in the so-called peaceful possession –, small areas”, explains Renata.

The other fundamental aspect of this project is the establishment of deadlines: “It foresees, for example, that, in public forests where there is already demand from indigenous and quilombola populations, their recognition will be carried out by 2026”.

Giving visibility to the Amazon

“With the campaign, we were able to bring the Amazon agenda to a national level. And at a very important moment, an election year, bringing federal and state deputies who support the cause closer together,” says Leila Borari, Amazon de Pé mobilizer and indigenous environmental activist — someone who, as she herself says, is “in the eye of the storm”.

From Alter do Chão, in Pará, Leila sees abuse and violence happening all the time on a daily basis: “A fortnight ago, there was a knock on my door. 

It was a man saying that a person had appeared on his land claiming to be the owner of the property, with the CAR in his hands. 

I advised him to do what was possible for the moment: contact the agrarian sector of the State Public Prosecutor’s Office to file a complaint. Anyway, these are lands, including indigenous lands, improperly occupied… We have a river here, which is the river where we used to bathe in childhood, all contaminated by mercury that comes from illegal mining in Indigenous Land”, he laments.

In addition to the specific horrors that affect those who live in the Amazon territory, it is known that the forest plays a fundamental role in climate regulation and rainfall and that it even interferes with agricultural production – affecting millions of people.

At all times, Amazonian trees pump soil water back into the atmosphere, in a phenomenon called evapotranspiration. 

This moisture, carried by the wind, reaches the Andes Mountains and its immense wall causes part of it to precipitate right there, feeding river sources. 

The other part goes to the interior of the continent, spreading over the Midwest, Southeast, and South regions of Brazil.

Decreasing the number of trees, there is less humidity and rain to bathe the plantations, which are harmed. 

This results in food shortages due to the dry climate and causes those that reach the market to have above-average prices. Deforestation does not even favor agribusiness.

Taking this information, bringing the forest closer to those who do not see it as part of their daily reality, is one of the goals and achievements of the Amazônia de Pé campaign. 

So far, with the great mobilization in all corners of Brazil, around 60 thousand signatures have already been collected. “I follow the campaign with a lot of truth, courage, and hope”, says Leila Borari.

The collection of signatures

In order for the Bill to enter the National Congress, in Brasília, there must be a minimum number of one and a half million physical signatures from people (voters) from five different states of the Federation, something that corresponds to 3% of the constituencies for each of them.

Karina Penha, the campaign mobilization coordinator, spoke of some communication actions that have been carried out in order to reach the necessary coverage and volume of signatures:

“When we built the project, we designed several tactics. We thought that, in order to decentralize the agenda, it would be necessary to have groups of volunteers in several cities, mobilize digital activists, and organize the Virada Cultural Amazônia de Pé, which happened at the beginning of September [in several cities simultaneously], and also participate in other events, such as Rock in Rio”.

Rayandra Nunes, 23 years old, is from Manaus and was a volunteer at the event in Rio de Janeiro. She told us about her experience:

“I was one of the few people from the North and it was very important for me to see this mobilization in a national form. 

People, who are in the heart of the Amazon, sometimes wonder if people outside of that area can understand the importance of the forest for everyone, but the receptivity was incredible. In a single festival day, we collected three thousand signatures”.

Amazônia de Pé nas Escolas was another action implemented and in which Karina actively participated: “Our goal was to get many schools in Brazil to talk about the Amazon and take some action. 

We created a program in which we offer material, workshops, and mentoring to facilitate this process”.

Colégio Carandá, in São Paulo, was one of the enrolled schools. 

There, they collected 262 signatures and ranked third on the list of institutions that were part of the training program, considering the number of participants involved in the campaign and the signatures acquired.

“We made three collection points, which worked for 15 days. The idea is to continue: in October there will be an event involving the entire school community,

where we will also have this action”, says Juliana Chinellato, a science teacher involved in the action.

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