Project June 30, 2023

Peru’s Isolated Tribes Under Pressure



The Amazon only has a few years left to move from tipping point to turning point and, with limited time and resources, prioritization is key. In the Peru-Brazil border, two transboundary corridors the size of the UK prevail as the world’s largest contiguous territories of Indigenous people in voluntary isolation and initial contact (PIACI). The forests occupied by these nomads have record-levels of carbon and biodiversity and concentrate headwaters feeding the entire Amazon.

The territories of PIACI, which should be off-limits, are notoriously traversed by illegal networks, but also by corporations that are financed by, or export to, the Global North: energy plants, carbon projects and logging concessions with international sustainability certificates.

The future of these landscapes is now on the line, as Peruvian lawmakers are proposing a bill to strip the PIACI of protection and global demand for energy and commodities intensifies. A loophole in the new EU deforestation law also means companies have to comply with domestic regulations, instead of international Indigenous rights standards, opening the common market to potentially abusive, but legal, businesses.

Meanwhile, Indigenous communities are overcoming historical divisions and forging transboundary strategies to protect their, and their isolated kin's, shared interests.

The project will provide a snapshot of the corridors as a critical point for the Amazon and bring to light the threats facing some of the world’s last Indigenous people living in voluntary isolation. Through feature stories and photo essays from remote Amazonian headwaters, it will also highlight Indigenous-led actions and proposals for the future of those territories, showing the power of collective action in the face of what might appear to be crushing odds.