I am bombarded with reports from my home country, Bolivia, and it is all over the news: The Amazon is burning down to an alarming extent.
I feel so much anger when I read about this..
I get angry because the same headlines were being written when I was in school, over 30 years ago. This was the reason I became passionate about nature and forests and why I eventually studied Environmental Engineering and Science. For my Master' Thesis I traveled to the furthest reaches of the Bolivian Amazon to learn how people's livelihoods were in these places in the hope to be able to prove that local population can be an aid to conservation under the right circumstances. I saw it with my own eyes and I documented everything. Within the boundaries of the Natural Reserve where my study took place, life was almost idilic, most families where young settlers with school aged children, happy to abide to the limitations of land use imposed by the conservation policies that prevailed in National Protected areas. They were very aware that the presence of a protecting body made all the difference to them with regards to land tenure and the feeling of safety. Sadly, In Bolivia, as in Brazil, the political stand has shifted dramatically and it is no longer a thing of National interest to protect the forests or their local indigenous population.
It breaks my heart because I know what is burning, I know millions of insects, birds, reptiles and mammals are fleeing for their lives at no avail. Thousands of homes are burning down each day. Schools must be closing and communities are struggling to protect their lands as illegal settlers come in from every angle, with the intention to cut the biggest logs within their land before the big burn. Once everything is burned down there is no more opposition, families leave as they are no longer able to manage the large scale farming that is required to produce soy or raise cattle. Conventional farming is no longer possible because now pests are coming from every corner, the ecosystem has changed for good.
I saw a post on Instagram with an ilustration of a quote from Greta Thunberg that nailed it, like it was made today
Original art work by Rick Frausto