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Project November 30, 2023

Race Against Time: Amazon Landgrabbers Rush To Seize the Rainforest



"Race Against Time: Amazon Landgrabbers Rush To Seize the Rainforest" shows how small-time land grabbers and squatters supported by state and local governments are scrambling to seize land in far-flung parts of the Brazilian Amazon as international attention focuses on the removal of illegal miners from the Yanomami Indigenous land.

The story focus an area in southern Roraima state where smallholders from across the Amazon are currently deforesting and burning to carve out future property claims. The squatters come from other parts of the rainforest where land prices have surged in recent years, due to new agribusiness infrastructure projects and an uptick in soybean production, which has encouraged many to sell up and search for new economic opportunities on distant forest frontiers.

The process mirrors the first Amazon migration wave during Brazil’s military dictatorship when smallholders from the country’s south and northeast flocked to the Amazon in search of land and opportunity, but often suffered disease, violence, and death instead.

Some of today’s new Amazon economic migrants are genuine, hoping to build small farming livelihoods, but others are criminals looking to profit from land speculation and environmental destruction.