“For hundreds of miles in every direction a magnificent forest extended over plain and mountain, rock and morass”.
Alfred Russel Wallace in Borneo / The Malay Archipelago (1869)
In the Eden-like rainforests that once clothed the equator, government-backed & multinational corporations are, mostly out of sight & out of mind, stealing the resources of powerless, largely voiceless indigenous peoples whose names still identify the mountains, the valleys, and the rivers from where oil, timber, gold and other valuable minerals are spirited away. Imagine one morning walking into the New York’s Central Park only to be denied entry at the gates as oil derricks can be seen rising up from the flowerbeds. You protest, that this is a public park and it belongs to everyone, but a stranger stands in your way waving an official document. Perhaps it has been written in a language you don’t speak, and in an alphabet you cannot read. This parkland is not yours, explains the stranger. In fact it never was, because it has always belonged to the government who has now leased your land to this corporation you’ve never heard of, from a country you have never been. Finally, he gleefully informs you, should you try to enter these grounds, he will have you arrested, or worse.
Just like their colonial predecessors, outside actors, aided by local oligarchies, extract resources, as if the land and those who live on it are completely expendable.
By no choice of their own, indigenous rainforest peoples must shoulder a heavy burden so that more prosperous end-consumers can live better, more fulfilling lives secure in the belief that the supply of cheap stuff is a birth right not a privilege. The bounty of this capitalistic Mardi Gras, most consumers believe, is supposed to go on forever, free from consequences.
The Global Rainforest Crisis Project team have focused an unblinking eye for over two decades, creating a chronological data base, documenting the dire consequences to rainforest-dwelling peoples due to, in large part, the consumption choices of people living in distant cities.