Deforestation of the Amazon occurs relentlessly and in Urubichá, a town in Bolivia located in Guarayos territory, you can see the effects it has on the indigenous communities. I travelled to Urubichá in June 2019 with nine other students from the University of Oregon as part of a study abroad group to learn more from the people living in the communities about indigenous and environmental issues affecting them. Deforestation and the associated consequences were one of the main issues that these communities face. In Urubichá, double-bed trucks can be seen leaving nearby forests for hours each day during the logging season (see Figure 1). During a two hour photo shoot I helped with, our team witnessed about 17 double-bed trucks leaving the forest and loaded with valuable trees. For the indigenous communities residing in Urubichá and other nearby towns, the forest was diminishing steadily before their eyes. The same forest that they had sustainably harvested wood from for a very long time to use for hand crafted instruments. A professor from the Urubichá School of Music and Art informed our study abroad group that the loggers come and cut down large numbers of trees. Music and handcrafted instruments are important aspects to Gurayos culture in Urubichá. Deforestation due to current logging activities in the region, in addition to land conversion of forested areas for cattle ranching and large-scale industrial agriculture, is threatening the survival of indigenous culture and their livelihoods. These communities depend on the Amazon for its numerous ecoservices (i.e. timber, food, shelter, climate regulation, water, etc.). This paper will discuss some of the contributing factors to deforestation and how it has adversely impacted the environment and indigenous communities. First, I will discuss the benefits that the Amazon provides and the effects of deforestation. Then I will present some factors that contribute to deforestation, including some state policies that encourage and help to formalize the practice. Next I’ll share observations and experiences from my time abroad in Bolivia as a participant of the Summer 2019 Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice study abroad program led by Dr. Derrick Hindery, a University of Oregon professor. With this paper I hope to illustrate how extractive industries have adversely impacted the wellbeing of the environment, the local indigenous communities, and the global community but, more importantly, present some solutions from an indigenous perspective as best I can through research and my time studying abroad in Bolivia. ... Read More
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Rose Poton (she/her) is a compassionate and creative Conflict and Dispute Resolution professional that enjoys working on issues involving the health and well-being of all people and environments while applying a community-centered and environmental justice lens.