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Project February 6, 2020

Protecting the Amazon's Isolated Tribes



Modernity is closing in on the isolated tribes of the Amazon. Loggers, miners, drug traffickers, and oil developers are pushing deep into the forest, even as some isolated tribes venture out and make contact with their neighbors. Protecting these peoples is a social and political challenge that intersects human rights, the environment, and the powerful economics of resource extraction. The challenge is playing out in real time in the southern Peruvian Amazon, where contacts with isolated tribes has led to conflict and even death in recent years.

We explore the role that science and technology can play as Indigenous tribes, government agencies, and academics seek to understand isolated tribes and secure the land that they occupy from outside intrusion. We also provide a lens on the Indigenous perspective, accompanying Indigenous leaders to communities that are working to protect their cousins in the forest. Indigenous communities are the last line of defence in places like the Amazon, and evidence suggests that they can play an important role in forest conservation.

In a rich media feature, this project examines the challenge on the ground in Peru while exploring the broader trends across the tropics.


a yellow halftone illustration of a truck holding logs