The answer is Chief Almir from the Surui tribe in Brazil, and Nyon’s Paléo festival. For the past two summers, Chief Almir and some members of his tribe have been invited from Brazil to come to the Paléo music festival. where, with a stand run by the association Aquaverde, they have drawn attention to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the Surui’s efforts to preserve and reforest their 250.000 hectares indigenous territory (the size of the Canton of Geneva and the Canton of Vaud).
The first time the Surui tribe saw white men and had contact with the outside world was just 40 years ago. Today they embrace modern technology to highlight and show the public for itself the enormous problems that the tribe faces. They do this by using Google Earth and GPS systems to create a map to mark and show the physical boundaries of their native land , (93% of which is still covered by primary rainforest), the reforestation areas and the devastation surrounding it. The impact of seeing the vast area under constant threat from an aerial view helps the public to understand the issues at stake.
Living in Nyon went to the Aquaverde stand this summer and briefly chatted with Jurgen Vogel from Aquaverde. He explained that Chief Almir was delighted that Paléo had brought him over, he also appreciated the contact he had with members of the public to let him explain a little bit about his life and to engage in dialogue .
He also said that here in Switzerland he felt he was treated as an equal whereas back in his native Brazil, in some towns he and members of his tribe were still treated like second class citizens. Chief Almir himself received a university education in Brazil which was funded by organisations supporting indigenous development and self reliance. The Surui realized they needed to learn our civilisation’s ways in order to survive, preserving their ancestral knowledge , culture and traditions, and their environment. When he became chief of his tribe at 17, Almir knew he would have to reach out to the entire world to raise awareness outside the forest to highlight their situation.
Idea for a Christmas present with a local Nyon link
The Association Aquaverde provides the Surui People financial the means to develop their reforestation and related education projects. It costs just CHF 15 to purchase the planting of a tree with Aquaverde. Click here to buy a tree. Only CHF 1.5 of the 15 goes to administration costs.
The trees are grown in a nursery during the ongoing year and, at the beginning of the rainy season (between December and March), they are transplanted to degraded lands. They are then looked after by the indigenous community. The adoption of trees by individuals and companies is the main source of financing of Aquaverde reforestation projects. The communities also benefit from resources generated by fair trade distribution of the products such as seeds, fruits, oil, arts & crafts items, originating from the trees.
Also note that for every Christmas tree bought at Schilliger, the garden centre will plant one tree with Aquaverde.