- Jane Goodall is partnering with Dax Dasilva to bring her Roots & Shoots youth program to the Brazilian Amazon to help equip Indigenous youth to protect their ancestral lands.
- On Goodall’s first in-depth visit to the Amazon, she and Dasilva met with Juma Xipaya, who leads resistance against dams and illegal mining and logging in her indigenous territory of the Xipaya, located in Brazil’s Pará state.
- Deforestation and climate change are drying and degrading the Amazon rainforest, and this year saw historic droughts across the region.
- Indigenous territories remain important strongholds for safeguarding the remaining Amazon Rainforest.
Renowned primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall is bringing her youth program, Roots & Shoots, to the Brazilian Amazon in partnership with Indigenous leaders and tech entrepreneur and conservationist Dax Dasilva. The goal is to better equip local youth to protect their ancestral lands.
Goodall announced the new Amazon chapter of Roots & Shoots after her first-ever in-depth visit to the Amazon alongside Dasilva, founder of the environmental organization Age of Union. (Editor’s note: Goodall is a member of Mongabay’s advisory council.)
Observing Goodall’s tireless advocacy on the trip was personally impactful, Dasilva told Mongabay. “The thing I experienced being with her day and night was just the power of stories,” he said. “She’s just such a master storyteller and really takes the time to connect with people.”
While visiting the Amazon, Goodall and Dasilva met with Juma Xipaya, founder of the Juma Institute within the Xipaya Indigenous Territory in Brazil’s Pará state.
Juma led a successful resistance against a massive dam project in her territory and continues to resist the incursion of illegal loggers and miners.
“What we inherited from our ancestors is this ancient knowledge, that people call ecological intelligence, and this rich forest that produces 20% of the planet’s freshwater and 25% of its terrestrial biodiversity,” Juma Xipaya said in a statement. “The forest is threatened, it’s essential to prepare our young people to continue this legacy that is not only ours but of all humanity.”
The goal of Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programs is to help young people launch community service projects related to people, animals and the environment. Since starting in Tanzania in 1991, the youth-led program has expanded to more than 60 countries. The new program will be one of the first in Brazil and Indigenous-led.
During their journey in the Xipaya Indigenous Territory, Goodall and Dasilva camped on a river island that was only accessible because of this year’s historic drought. “We were walking along dried sections of what should be river,” Dasilva said.
Decades of widespread deforestation and climate change have led to a drier, more degraded Amazon rainforest. The leading cause of deforestation is slash-and-burn clearing of land for cattle ranching to meet increasing global demand for beef.
Scientists warn that the Amazon is hurtling toward a tipping point, beyond which it would begin to transition from lush tropical forest into a dry, degraded savanna, unable to support the immense diversity of life that call it home.
Protected areas and Indigenous territories are important strongholds for safeguarding the remaining rainforest. Most of the deforestation and fires in the Amazon over the past five years have taken place outside of these key land-use designations, highlighting the importance of granting and honoring Indigenous land rights and protected status.
Dasilva described flying over sites of illegal mining and agricultural expansion and said he noticed stark differences between intact forest in Indigenous territories and degraded areas outside them.
“The Indigenous people are the true protectors of the forest,” Dasilva said. “By supporting them with the Roots & Shoots program, which we went there to map out and explore … I think is an amazing way for traditional Indigenous knowledge to be preserved.”
Banner image of Jane Goodall and Dax Dasilva within the Indigenous Territory of the Xipaya, located in Brazil’s Pará state. Photo courtesy of Age of Union.
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