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For Younger Children
The Brazilian organisation Instituto SocioAmbiental (ISA) has created a website specifically aimed at younger people which has been translated into English. It includes a wealth of information presented in a lively and fascinating way, with videos (mostly in Portuguese, but visually rich so still interesting) and games. Explore!
For Under 16s
The website above, Brazil’s Indigenous People for Children while targeted at younger children, includes a wealth of information and would be a good starting point for anyone researching indigenous people in Brazil.
The BBC’s GCSE Bitesize gives a carefully balanced overview of the needs of Brazil and pressures on the Amazon. In our opinion, it goes a little too far in promoting the exploitation of the Amazon’s natural resources as necessary for Brazil’s development. Many of the resources gained by exploiting the Amazon – metals, electricity, beef and soya – primarily benefit the export industry, which generates huge wealth for the few while bringing little improvement in the lives of the majority of Brazilians. The principal beneficiaries are the developed countries of Europe and North America and more recently China, who are able to purchase goods, agricultural products and materials at an artificially low price because Brazil continues to exploit these resources unsustainably. While GCSE Bitesize will help you to pass your exams, you should extend your research if you want to really understand the Amazon.
Below is a slideshow of 56 slides which, while in places not very well translated from Portuguese, gives an excellent introduction to the issues affecting the Amazon and its people. It includes many useful statistics:
The following slideshow, while focussed on the Yanomami Indians who are located far away to the north-west in the state of Roraima, covers most of the issues which also affect the Xingu:
This Channel 4 guide is again a more general overview of the Amazon forest, but in a downloadable pdf format: Amazonia, Channel 4
For AS/A Level Students
Barbara Zimmerman’s paper Conservation and development alliances with the Kayapó focuses on the Kayapo Indians and their proactive efforts to build an alternative future, incorporating conservation into their economic and cultural future planning. It explores the Kayapo’s demands to be able to interact with the commercial world on their own terms. The paper also includes a large amount of background information and a detailed analysis of the biodiversity situation in the Kayapo reserves.
There is a plethora of single issues related to the Xingu which could usefully be explored as part of an advanced course of study; the advance of cattle and soya agriculture; the potential for land use change for growing biofuel crops; natural resource conflicts – mining, hydroelectricity, agriculture; logging and the timber industry and their impact on smallholder settlement and roadbuilding; climate change, how it is affected by changes in land use and how it is affecting subsistence agriculture and biodiversity in the Xingu; large-scale infrastructure projects – roads, hydroelectric schemes, port building – and their impact on worker migration and land use change. One very current issue is the potential effects of ‘monetising’ the forest, by making payments for climate services and carbon offsets. Each of these issues has two sides, and it is vital to look at both the pros and the cons in a rigorous discussion. The idea that if we put a higher price on standing forest than on cleared land, then the forest will be maintained is an attractive one; but is it accurate? Can REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, a United Nations programme) actually deliver a sustainable solution which will avoid deforestation and preserve biodiversity? Here are a coouple of thought-provoking papers: Can finance save forests? from Green Futures Magazine and Seeing REDD in the Amazon from The Economist.