The threatened Indigenous and other traditional lands of Terra do Meio are part of a mosaic of 8.5 million hectares of protected areas, which is a habitat for over 100 mammal and 500 bird species. These lands buffer the rest of the Amazon from intrusion by illegal gold miners, cattle ranchers, agribusinesses, and land grabbers.
The local communities protect and steward the rainforest but are often forced to leave and go to the city for healthcare and economic opportunities. When they leave their land, cattle ranchers, land-grabbers, and other actors encroach and degrade the forest. Deforestation in this area risks the Amazon reaching an irreversible tipping point.
To break this cycle, communities designed interventions that keep them on their land, allowing them to defend and protect it. The community-designed interventions include access to high-quality, affordable healthcare, strengthening their dynamic forest economy, and access to education for their youth.
In 2020, Health in Harmony (HIH) launched programs to work alongside Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in the Terra do Meio region of the Xingu River Basin to regenerate this critical corridor of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.
The main goal of this project is to reverse the degradation and deforestation of 8.5 million hectares of rainforest through investment in community-designed solutions. The forest economy will provide economic opportunities and improve the well-being of 2,500 IPLCs.
Over the coming year, HIH will do this by supporting community nurses, renovating community health centers, and conducting health expeditions to bring health services, training, instruction, and support to local health centers. This includes an emergency referral system, COVID-19 treatment and vaccination services, telemedicine, and an increased number of healthcare workers living in the communities.
Funding will also invest in the Cantinas Network to increase the production and marketing of non-timber forest products. This network of local and Indigenous territories produces and trades ingredients like Brazil nuts, babacu oil and flower, and tonka beans to create a more robust forest economy to improve food security and increase economic well-being.
This project will directly benefit the 2,500 IPLC people that live in Terra do Meio and allow them to continue to protect the Amazon Rainforest, which acts as a green shield blocking deforestation. In addition, safeguarding this rainforest will protect water supplies for millions of people and prevent the release of 28,782,380 tons of carbon into the air, mitigating the effects of the climate crisis for people worldwide.
Partners of this HIH project include traditional community associations such as Amoreri, Associação de Moradores da Resex do Rio Iriri, Instituto Socioambiental, the Federal University of Para Medical School, and local government health secretaries in Altamira City and Para State.