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celebrating world ranger day & earth defenders

More than 200 land and environmental activists are murdered every year. My first experience working with a community whose leader had disappeared was 10 years ago in Malaysia. I was asked to travel to a village where they had been relocated for the building of a mega dam. At this time I was keen to work on establishing safeguards for "green" developments to ensure that indigenous peoples voices are included in these mega developments. Since then we also input into the Indigenous policy of the Green Climate Fund. But we have so much further to go.

I'm very fortunate to have worked in over 30 countries since going to Malaysia and being hosted by the Orang Asli peoples. My work has been centred on helping indigenous communities to monitor their bio-cultural wellbeing to measure changes in their territories and advise on intervention and management for the health of the environment and people.

My most recent and challenging work over the past few years has been working with the support of Nia Tero in the Amazon. Namely Suriname and Brazil (soon to be expanded into wider territories of Amazonia and the Pacific). I have mostly worked with the Wayana peoples through the leadership of the Mulokot Foundation who we had the pleasure of producing the following video for their UN periodic review. The Wayana peoples do not currently have legal recognition, which is a major problem for indigenous peoples defense of their way of life.

I am constantly amazed by the commitment and passion of indigenous leaders to their people and Mother Earth. I have learnt so much from all of my experiences working with the peoples of Amazonia. And so the recent news of the murder of Bruno Pereira of Univaja (the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley), one of our Nia Tero partners. Bruno was a former government official tasked with protecting Brazil’s uncontacted tribes, who has long received threats from the loggers and miners seeking to invade their lands. He was working with journalist Dom Phillips when they both disappeared after receiving threats from an illegal poacher, was so heartbreaking for everyone.

In a statement, the Indigenous group Univaja released details of their disappearance in the Javari region of Amazonas state – a vast region of rivers and rainforests near the border with Peru. This region accounts for half of all land conflicts in the country. For more on the situation of the UNIVAJA click here

The protection of Mother Earth can truly be a life or death situation for indigenous communities. May we all stand together in solidarity for a better future. Join us in celebrating the brave guardians of our world.

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