The Mata Atlântica forest, which runs along the coast of Brazil, boasts 23,000 plant species (40% of which are found no where else in the world); 1,000 bird species (including numerous rare species of parrot); 750 species of reptiles and amphibians and 264 species of mammals (including three species of critically endangered lion-tamarins). Less well known than the Amazon, the Mata Atlântica is equally affected by deforestation, – which is threatening the plants, animals and the way of life of the indigenous Guarani people.
This Christian Aid project will help protect 21,654 ha of the Mata-Atlântica rainforest from threats such as climate change, deforestation, urban growth and unsustainable exploitation. It will strengthen the ability of the Guarani population to defend their land rights and to be part of the decision making processes that determine the fate of their forest.
Christian Aid’s local partner, CPI, has been supporting Guarani communities since the 1980s; providing legal support to indigenous communities when they have become involved in land ownership disputes, and when large scale, state, development projects threatened their traditional way of life. More recently, CPI has focussed on Guarani women and young people, undertaking an extensive programme of training to promote their awareness of their right to land, healthcare and education, and increasing their voice within indigenous life.
This project will be the beneficiary of the testimonial year of Jeff Williams, the Head of Christian Aid in Wales since 1986.
The testimony of Chief Adolfo Timothy Guarani village of Rio Silveira, illustrates his concern with the lack of recognition this situation is receiving: “The Guarani have always been forgotten in Brazil because the attention was focused on the Amazon. Very often I meet people that say ‘Is there an indigenous community in São Paulo? I thought that the indigenous only lived in the Amazon or in Mato Grosso. I think it’s time to disclose that we are here.”
Osmar Tupa Mirim, a Guarani teacher who has worked with CPI, explains the importance of the project “Today there are changes to the community and forest and it is important to understand why since we do not know this in the same way that whites know. They affect our way of life as the Guarani are rooted in nature. These are important things to talk to children and adults about. Now we have the material to explain the issue to children.”