People

Women workingThe rich and complex natural tapestry of Amazon forest life is interwoven with the people living in the forest.

Although the majority of people in the Amazon live in cities and towns, there are still many indigenous groups living in the jungle, some who have had no contact with our "outside" world.

These people rely on the forest for their way of life. It provides almost everything from food and shelter to tools and medicines, as well as playing a crucial role in people's spiritual and cultural life. The people living in the forest make practical and sustainable use of the forest, and live within the constraints of this harsh environment. We have much to learn from their unique and valuable perceptions.

For instance, the Waimiri Atroari of the Brazilian Amazon use 32 plant species in the construction of hunting equipment alone. Each plant has a specific role according to its physical and chemical properties.

Indigenean RitualYet the traditional way of life for indigenous Amazon cultures is being threatened.

As logging companies move in, indigenous people are losing their traditional territory. Some indigenous people, such as the Deni living in a remote area of Brazil's Amazonas state, are working not only to protect their culture, but the forest and the diversity of life which they depend upon.

The Amazon represents a last remote and pristine forest on our distressed and overcrowded planet. In addition to the remarkable intrinsic beauty and its myriad plant and animal species, it is clear that this diversity also represents a natural medicine chest.

Forest plants form the basis of primary healthcare for all forest-dwelling people. Dozens of species used by traditional medical practitioners now form the basis of pharmaceuticals used in modern medicine. Many powerful Amazon-sourced medicines have already been discovered and still more plants that hold out real hope for natural cures to life threatening diseases are left unexplored.

Information Source: greenpeace.org

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