statement on Amazon fires statement on Amazon fires

Friday August 23, 2019

The Amazon rainforest has been burning for 3 weeks, and is only now getting the kind of global attention that this emergency needs.

Indigenous peoples throughout the region have been sounding the alarm for decades as they have been working to defend their rights and territories from an onslaught of extractive industries — ranging from soy, cattle, palm oil, and crude oil to other commodities that connect directly to those of us in developed nations.

Brazilian president Jair Bolsanaro's fascist rhetoric and shameful policies are expanding destruction of the Amazon, and Indigenous peoples' ways of life and rights are being trampled. The tens of thousands of fires across the region are emblematic of the urgency of the situation and the need to chart a different course. is honored to begin engaging in efforts with Indigenous nationalities, Amazon Watch, and other allies to protect a critical region within the Ecuadorian and Peruvian region of the upper Amazon basin known as the Sacred Headwaters. This area encompasses over 60 million acres, is home to nearly half a million Indigenous peoples from over 15 nationalities, and is one of the most biodiverse rainforests on the planet. It is also at risk from a massive expansion of drilling for crude oil. If the oil industry expansion plans go through, these pristine roadless areas will be opened up — and other extractive industries that have decimated other regions in the Amazon basin will follow. 

Indigenous communities are uniting in their vision for protection of this critical area, and are succeeding at local resistance efforts to shut down oil wells and future extractive industry expansion plans.

Stay tuned in the coming months as, Amazon Watch, and other partners build an international platform to draw attention to and support for Indigenous peoples in the region, who are fighting to protect their rights and territories and prevent future industrial expansion in the Sacred Headwaters. 

Learn more about the Sacred Headwaters Initiative at

-Tyson Miller, Forest Program Director,