Perse students inspired to consider plight of Amazon tribal communities
30 Sep 2019
The environmental impact of the wildfires in the Amazon rainforest may have recently hit the headlines.
However, Gabriella Rutherford from Survival International gave Perse students an insight into the humanitarian effect of the disaster during her thought-provoking 42 lecture on the plight of tribal people living in the region.
Defining tribes as communities who live apart from mainstream society and exist largely self-sufficiently off the land, she explained how how there are around 1 million tribal people inhabiting the Amazon, including an estimated 40 uncontacted tribes.
Gabriella outlined how the fires had devastated swathes of land where people live. She also talked about the threats they face from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-indigenous policies. She said Bolsonaro views the Amazon as a resource to be exploited and that tribal people’s protected territories take up 13% of the country that he believes could be used for commercial benefit.
She told students they continue to fight back against the threats to their environment though, by taking part in protests to raise awareness of their situation, with support from Survival International.
Gabriella also held workshops with Sixth Form geography students talking more generally about the work of Survival International, who have been helping tribal communities protect their lives and lands for the last 50 years.
She said: “The Sixth Form are looking at climate change mitigation policy which is where this fits in. We’ve been looking at protected areas which are a key part of climate change mitigation policy and actually seeing the impact they have on tribal and indigenous people.
“What’s happened in the Amazon with the fires is devastating. The one positive thing is that it’s captured people’s attention. People want to talk about the Amazon and they want to hear more about what’s going on because they don’t really know.
“We just see pictures of fires without perhaps knowing what the causes are, who to point the finger at or what can be done, but also what’s happening to the people on the ground who are living there. It’s so rewarding coming here and speaking to the students and seeing them fired up about these kinds of issues.”
Gabriella added that Survival International are holding a youth advocates day on 23 November where young people can find out more about the organisation and how they can support the cause.