On the southeast coast of Brazil there is the Guaraqueaba Forest, where three American companies have ‘purchased’ a forest as a way to offset their carbon footprints. Basically, they are promising not to cut down these trees, in a rather stupid concept called ‘avoided deforestation’. They are not fighting their carbon footprint by adding more trees or reducing it. They are buying forests with trees that have already absorbed a certain amount of carbon- it’s not like the trees are actively absorbing the carbon as the companies are releasing. They don’t own the land- they just pay, promise not to cut down any of the trees, and receive ‘carbon credit’, which the entire process is not allowed in many developed nations, which signed the Kyoto
Anyway, there are people who live in this forest. They are the Gurani people. They may not have any land rights but they have lived there for generations and have lived off the island: hunting, fishing, harvesting, farming, etc. But now that their land is ‘protected’ they are having a hard time getting by. A group called the Forca Verde (Green Police) arrest, and prosecute when the Gurani people do what they’ve been doing for centuries: cutting down the local Palmetto trees to live off of. The Green Police ignore all the people who are cutting the trees down illegally for the illicit food market. They are taking bribes from the big American companies to prosecute the local residents, to dissuade them from fighting back since it brings the government a good chunk of money.
I did some more research on the Guaraní people. There is a lot of mythology in their culture, and I was struck by one line from the photo essay: “all the indigenous wisdom comes from the forest”. I began thinking about some sort of Mother Nature-esque spirit watching over the Guaraní people and seeing all the problems that is happening to her forest, sort of an almost Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas type spirit.
I’m going to do collage again- a series of three images focusing on the Forest Spirit’s and its reaction to the whole ‘avoided deforestation’ business.