Maria dreams of being the next Greta Thunberg. Kelita studied in the very first university program in the Amazon. Fabio helps his family do their part to fight climate change through sustainable agriculture.
A New Generation of Young Brazilians from the Amazon Region Seeks to Reshape the Struggle for the Biggest in the World tropical forest, which shrinks before their eyes.
The first Forest Youth Conference recently brought together 287 of them to discuss what they can do to fight endemic forest fires, deforestation due to logging, agriculture and l mining, and apathy for the rapid loss of one of the most important natural resources on Earth.
AFP presents three.
Maria Cunha, 26, is from Sao Raimundo, a small village in a protected reserve whose inhabitants live by fishing and gathering.
Volunteer ranger graduated in sustainable production techniques, she says that to save the Amazon, it will be necessary to work with the people who know it best: its inhabitants.
“We are the keepers of the forest. We live here and depend on the rainforest for almost everything. If we don’t protect our forests, how will we live?” she added.
She already sees the impact of climate change at home, she says: warmer weather, lower water levels on rivers, fewer fish.
Animals also feel the impact.
“They come to our yard looking for food because they cannot find enough, because of the fires and deforestation,” she said.
She fears that it will “all disappear in the near future” if other people her age do not act.
She sees Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, as a role model.
“I dream of being the next Greta, an independent girl who fights for her rights,” she said.
Kelita do Carmo left the rainforest at the age of 13 to settle in the city of Manaus to work as a nanny.
Eight months later, she was back home in Bauana, a village of stilt houses on the banks of the Jurua River.
“I have learned to appreciate things here,” she said.
Now 22 years old, she is studying to become a teacher, as part of the very first study program offered in the rainforest.
The program aims to provide teachers to remote tropical forest villages. It is a joint project of the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation – which sponsored the Forest Youth Conference – and the State University of Amazonas in Manaus.
It includes courses on sustainable agriculture and the environment.
Farmer, math genius
Fabio Gondim dreams of one day becoming a math teacher.
At 16, he is already an expert farmer.
He helps his family harvest the acai, a fruit much sought after for its health properties, and the cassava, which they use to make flour.
A natural athlete, he can scale an acai palm 10 meters (33 feet) in a flash.
“I never thought of leaving” the rainforest, he said.
“I would not like to live in the city. Everything is easier here. The forest provides our food and our income.”
He helps his family adopt more sustainable farming techniques, such as cutting fewer trees to grow cassava.
“We must continue to fight for the Amazon,” he said.
“This is what sustains the world.”
© 2020 AFP
Young Brazilians fight for the Amazon (2020, April 1)
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