Alberto Pizango is an indigenous leader from Peru, fighting to protect the Amazon Rainforest
Alberto Pizango is a young indigenous leader from Peru, fighting to protect the Amazonian rainforest from logging, oil and gas exploration proposed by the Peruvian government. These plans would displace indigenous people, put the lives of animals under threat and cause the mass destruction and poisoning of the forests.
Last year, hundreds of indigenous people peacefully protested against the plans to exploit these indigenous lands; armed police went in to break up the protest and lives were lost. The government holds Alberto responsible, even though he was hundreds of miles away at the time. After months in exile, Alberto is back in Peru awaiting trial and a possible 20 year prison sentence. Any move he makes against the government now could result in his assassination; he wears a bullet-proof vest at all times.
Yachaywasi Films are following Alberto's amazing story.They plan to continue to follow him during the court case and up until his recently announced run for presidency; his success would be a tremendous victory not just for his people, but for a forest of worldwide importance, which must be protected if we are to avert climate change. This film shows Alberto's extraordinary bravery and is an inspiration to all who join him in his mission to save the planet. It is a vehicle for change. You can support the film by visiting this When Two Worlds Collide website.
Healing contaminated lands
When you look at what's happening in other parts of the Amazon, it's easy to understand Alberto's fears. In the Ecuadorian Amazon oil has been extracted for over 40 years, leading to toxic contamination of land and ground water. An incredible 18.5 billion gallons of toxic waste has been dumped in to unlined pits, which overflows in to the water table and has lead to life-threatening disease in local communities. So far, the cleanup has been slow and ineffective. Although the oil companies have made millions from their exploitation of the forest, they're not interested in clearing up what they've left behind.
A group of volunteers have set themselves the task of healing the forest using an untested and fascinating new method. The Eyes of Gaia mycoremediation project is implementing the first ever trials to clean up the contamination using native fungi; with incredible results. The volunteers, specialists in their field, are teaching local people to use this technique, giving them hope of something they've not had for decades; a clean, safe environment.
Organisations such as REDPAL Peru show us that another way is possible and is already happening. REDPAL was set up to defend the rights of indigenous people and to find solutions to critical issues, such as deforestation and soil degradation, primarily caused by logging and cattle ranching. Their main principle is to work with nature, not against it, a concept growing in popularity around the world, known as permaculture.
They have established a three-hectare site that naturally integrates the forest and crops to create a 'food forest.' The indigenous people, often disrespected by governments who see them as uneducated, second class citizens, have extensive knowledge of how to use forest plants and take care of forest systems. Permaculture principles combine this traditional knowledge with new ideas for restoring the environment and producing food, which allows these communities to become self-sufficient, whilst also reversing climate change as regenerated forests absorb carbon dioxide.
This important projects shows how much we have to learn from people who have lived sustainably in the forests for centuries. They show us how to live a life in tune with nature and, most importantly, without the need for destructive fossil fuels. We need to support indigenous people and help them to build their skills and emerge as new leaders. If we can live a little more like them, and a little less like us, we can all enjoy a healthier, more peaceful planet.
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