There are several reasons the lives of forest peoples are changing. Tribes in places like the Amazon and Malaysia are losing their traditional land to governments and developers. The forests they have used for countless generations are being cut down by loggers, torn up by miners, and hunted by poachers. The rivers they use for water and fishing are being dammed to produce electricity for far-off cities. When forest people resist these developments, they may be ridiculed, arrested, forcibly moved, or even killed.

Rainforest people themselves are choosing to change the way they live. For the indigenous, the lure of urban culture is strong. Cities seem to offer the promise of affluence and the conveniences of an easy life. But in leaving their forest homes indigenous peoples usually meet with a stark reality: the skills that serve them so well in the forest don’t translate well to an urban setting. The odds are stacked against them; they arrive near the bottom of the social ladder, often not proficient in the language and customs of city dwellers. The lucky ones may find work in factories or as day laborers and security guards, but many eventually return to the countryside. Some re-integrate into their villages, others join the ranks of miners and loggers who trespass on indigenous lands, negotiating deals that pit members of the same tribe against each other in order to exploit the resources they steward. As tribes are fragmented and forests fall, indigenous culture—and its wealth of profound knowledge —is lost. The world is left a poorer place, culturally and biologically.

 

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FAQs

  • May I use graphics from mongabay.com for my projects? Yes, you may provided that you don't remove the mongabay label from the images. You may use information from the site for class projects and can cite mongabay as the source.
  • Is this web site credible? Mongabay is the world's most popular source for information on tropical forests. The site is highly acclaimed by a number of the world's leading tropical scientists. Mongabay Founder Rhett Butler has published several scientific papers.
  • Can I interview the founder of mongabay for my school project? Unfortunately Rhett is not available for interviews. However he has answered some common questions on the Rainforest Interview page.
  • Do you have any games or activities? Currently there are a few on the resources page.
  • How can I help save rainforests? Some ideas are listed at Rainforest Solutions.
  • Where can I learn more about rainforests? Check the main rainforest site.