In late August, Institute founder Benki Piyãko and his family briefly visited the Restauracao community, only to return to a sky that was obscured by wildfires around the Institute. The unfolding crisis marked a testament to community strength and dedication to safeguard the Amazon during an unprecedented three-month drought, sparking fierce wildfires.

Around Benki gathered a dedicated team, comprising the Institute staff, members from the Ashaninka village Apwitxa, and international supporters of the Institute that were present during the outbreak. The Mayor of Marechal Thaumaturgo, along with local volunteers and the Secretary of the Environment  joined the combat on the frontline. 

Several hectares of the  Institute’s land were ablaze, and the Institute’s team worked tirelessly day and night, often traversing the burning ground with nothing but Havaianas on their feet. 

In a moment of international solidarity, the Institute and the Boa Foundation issued a call to action, resulting in the provision of essential firefighting equipment by our global community. Water backpacks, a 60-meter hose, and other tools facilitated combat in hard-to-reach areas. Regional authorities responded to Benki’s plea, sending a small group of firemen and equipment from Cruzeiro do Sul, who, in collaboration with the Institute’s team, military personnel, and the Municipal Environmental Department, worked tirelessly to control the wildfires.

Wildfires ravaged for twelve days, devouring 1300 hectares of nearby rainforest and 100 hectares of our Institute’s native forest, surpassing five years’ worth of tree planting. 

 It was only collective action and prayer that the combat group could prevent even greater destruction and overcome  the challenges of lacking infrastructure, revealing the valor of the local community willing to brave the flames to safeguard the forest and its inhabitants.

Photographs by Stella Ismene and Tommaso Marzotto.

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