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Rain forests shelter among the last indigenous tribes in the world. When cutting their trees, we destroy these people along with their culture, their knowledge and their science. Humankind is running the risk of being deprived of this knowledge. Over a thousand tribes live in virgin rain forests. Most of them are endangered, fighting illegal encroachers. If they came to disappear, the modern world would lose their whole cultural heritage as well as a know-how it still needs today.
Edible fauna and flora are scarce in the rain forest. However the Indians have managed to adjust to that complex universe and take advantage of its diversity. They follow the forest resources and adapt to the power of regeneration of the place where they settle. They essentially live on hunting, fishing and picking. In traditional societies, the Indians depend completely, a lot, slightly or hardly on their crops. Some itinerant farmers plant seeds they then let grow and come back a few months later for harvest. Other farmers are more sedentary. "Amazonian Indians have been cultivating deforested and burnt land for millenia. Aware of how fragile their environment is, they let lie fallow plots that are small enough for the jungle to grow back." It has been noticed that the gardens abandoned by the Indians for over forty years contain twice as many species as the neighbouring ones. In other words, traditional management practices would enable resources to be replenished while meeting the needs of the Indians. Conversely, massive clearing for planting and pasture does not enable the forest to regenerate. "The inhabitants of the rain forest view it as an earth mother, not as a threat."
The National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), claims that the interests of the Indians are best served through their social and cultural integration into modern society. The non-Indian population in Amazonia has increased by 1000% between the mid-1950s and nowadays. Human activities brought to Amazonia also bring diseases the Indians are not immunized against, and alcohol, which the Indians cannot take. In spite of its promise to take action, the governement is delaying expelling gold diggers, miners and other illegal occupants of Indian territories.