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Project January 14, 2022

Ravaged Land: When Extractive Industries Overrun a Kayapó Village



Mydjere Kayapó remembers when he could still swim in the Pachachá River, collecting Brazil nuts and açaí berries on his way home. The illegal loggers and miners had already arrived on his people's land—they had been there as long as he could remember—but parts of the rainforest on the Baú Indigenous Territory in the Amazonian state of Pará were still lush then, and the water still ran clean.

Now, that's all gone.

Runoff from mining has polluted rivers, and illegal logging has exploded on the Indigenous territory, leaving the land bare. A recent study from nonprofit Imazon showed that almost 67,000 acres of forest in Pará were lost to unauthorized logging between August 2019 and July 2020. Among those acres is protected land, all of which is Baú territory, stretching the equivalent of 158 soccer fields.

In Ravaged Land, Yale Environment 360 will look at the environmental devastation on the Kayapó territory, facilitated by a nearby ever-growing network of highways and the possible construction of a new railway for grain transportation. It will also look at the social destruction being caused, as illegal workers taking over the land have created a divide among the Kayapó, winning some over with empty promises.