The Amazon rainforest is often called the Earth's 'green lung'. Today, indigenous peoples like the Yawalapiti are its last guardians. Their young chief Tapi describes the effects of ongoing climate change and the threats the Yawalapiti face.
Hundreds of ethnic groups have traditionally lived in the Amazon. The Yawalapiti, who inhabit Brazil’s largest protected area for indigenous peoples along the Rio Xingu river, are at the forefront of attempts to protect the threatened rainforest. Their territory is a veritable nature reserve that covers ten percent of Brazil's national territory - an area about the size of Germany and France combined. The Europeans who conquered the country, however, didn’t see the forest as a sacred place, but as land ripe for exploitation. The climate in the region is ideal for agriculture, and Brazil has since developed into a leading exporter of soybeans and livestock - at the cost of many parts of the rainforest. One of the biggest threats to the Xingu Reservation and the entire Amazon is fire, which can turn the lush jungle into grassy plains if left unchecked. Scientists have now set up a research center in the heart of the forest to better understand the impact of climate change on the region. In doing so, they’re building on the millennia of experience gathered by the indigenous people who inhabit it.