Brazilian Heros #7 – José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva

The Amazon is being cut down at an alarming rate – sometimes trees are legally clear felled, sometimes they are illegally poached. The people that cut down the trees treat the forest as natural capital that can be converted to cash at any time. Others see the forest as a living environment that can sustainably provide natural resources without destroying the forest itself. This process is undoubtedly more labour intensive, and less profitable, but it is legal, and at least from my perspective, the only way forward.

José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva was a “castanheiro” (nut harvester) from Rondonia. He campaigned against the illegal loggers, charcoal makers, iron ore prospectors and farmers that abused the forest. Last month, José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife were gunned down as they left their forest home. His message was simple, but powerful. He knew his life was in danger, but he continued to stand his ground.

It´s a complicated issue, but if you want to help – as José recommends in his video – when buying wood, especially in Brazil – always look for the FSC logo, or at least some form of forest certification. Without a market, illegal logging would stop. This month, the ‘codigo florestral’ is being debated in the Brazilian Parliament – agribusiness seeks to end legal protection of the Amazon, so the boom in Brazilian exports can continue unchecked.