Collective decisions have been the key to saving a way of life in Brazil’s rainforest
by Nicolas Bourcier
Ilha das Cinzas (Island of Cinders) lies between two powerful branches of the Amazon, about six hours by boat from Macapá, the capital of Amapá state, Brazil. The nearest indigenous peoples are more than two days away, driven farther and farther south towards Belo Monte, where a huge, disputed hydroelectric dam is being built at the federal government’s instigation.
But here human intervention is in tune with the environment. The forest is intact, the wooden houses stand on stilts, water is filtered and recycled, farming and fishing co-ordinated and controlled. Ilha das Cinzas seems a perfect example of well-integrated human activity.
The story began in the 1920s or 1930s when a handful of families came here to occupy various plots of land, but with no property rights. They were attracted by the potential for logging and the river’s well-stocked waters. The community survived and slowly expanded; today there are about 100 families – roughly 350 residents in all.
For more on this story, visit: Innovation allows Amazon villagers to make ecological history | Environment | Guardian Weekly.