Never has our planet faced such danger as it does this century. Brought on by global warming, desertiﬁcation of soils, pollution of the oceans and the steady destruction of biodiversity, this climate emergency is a constant reminder of the fragility of our environment, the stability which is critical to the survival of all forms of life on earth.
The Amazon rainforest, known colloquially as “the lung of the world” thanks to its absorption of vast quantities of carbon dioxide, is without question a key factor in combating global warming. However, its destruction is accelerating as a result of ﬁres intentionally set to clear land for cattle farms and soya bean plantations. The poisoning of streams and rivers by free-lance gold prospectors and the relentless invasion of virgin forest by loggers illegally extracting valuable hardwood are aggravating this ecological and human tragedy, making it ever more diﬃcult to protect the Indigenous peoples living in this vast territory.
This tropical rainforest accounts for one-tenth of our planet’s species of ﬂora and fauna and represents the largest natural laboratory on earth. Inhabiting this world are some 310,000Indigenous people comprising 169 diﬀerent ethnic groups and speaking no fewer than 130 languages.
More than 100 other communities have yet to make contact with outsiders. Today, this ancestral world is also in danger of disappearance.
It was this calamitous horizon that gave birth to this ambitious and urgent photographic project. Our aim is not to denounce the horror of devastation but rather to show
the incomparable beauty of this region and to underline the importance of preserving both the forest and its inhabitants. This exhibition is the fruit of seven years of human experience and photographic expeditions– overland, by water and in the air – of an Amazônia still largely unknown and endlessly astonishing.
Through the power of images, we aspire to highlight the majesty of nature and the noble simplicity of the life-style of the Indigenous population. We also sincerely hope to raise awareness of this crisis among public and governments alike so that a new consciousness and commitment to decisive actions will emerge to better protect this invaluable global legacy. We believe that humanity as a whole has a responsibility to care for its common heritage, among which is the miracle of Amazônia.
- Léila Wanick Salgado and Sebastião Salgado