A great honor. But she told me last week that despite her legal victory, the soaring oil prices emanating from the Ukraine war have put new pressure on the forests of her indigenous communities. As she said, “The oil is in the woods, and they think our home is the solution.”
John Reid, senior economist at Nia Tero, explains: “The supply shock from Ukraine and Russia turns into a demand shock around the world, including intact forests, because of virgin forests. They are all major potential suppliers of agricultural commodities, gold, oil, gas and timber. (Wrote Reid and Thomas E. Lovejoy “Ever Green: Save the big forests to save the planet,“An excellent primary document on the vital role of intact forests in maintaining the biosphere.)
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim was a leader of the Mbororo shepherds in Chad. She told me it was too bad Lake Chad had lost about 90% of its water and many species, but now people in her community are asking her: “Why are the prices of flour and fuel going up? so high? Russia and Ukraine are so far away, so why should we be hurt? “They don’t understand how the shocks of the war in Ukraine could radiate far enough to hit Chad even inland, sub-Saharan.
“When the war started,” added Ibrahim, “the African countries were asked to choose a side. And all we thought was we needed food. This war has become a big deal for all of us.” Now, she adds, Chinese companies are looking for land for industrial agriculture, which is a huge problem for her cattle farmers.
“For the indigenous people, land is everything,” Ibrahim writes in an essay last week on The Mail & Guardian, based in South Africa. “It is the source of food, shelter and medicine, as well as the source of our culture and history. Over countless generations, we have learned to live well in our land. We know how to protect it, how to restore it, and how to serve as its engineers and nurturers rather than its destroyers.”
Unfortunately, some greedy leaders, like President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, resent the fact that indigenous peoples control precious resources – in Brazil’s case, more than 13% of its territory it is largely intact forest. Brazil bought $3.5 billion worth of fertilizer from Russia last year, the flow of which is now restricted by Western sanctions. So, just as the war began to cause fertilizer shortages, Bolsonaro exclaimed: “This crisis is a good opportunity for us.” washington articles reported. “Where there is native land, there is wealth beneath it.”
Then he moved to through legislation that would allow companies to extract potash from indigenous forests so that Brazil can produce more of its own fertilizer.