ROLE PLAY BRIEF 1 – the Poor Amazonians

The Poor Amazonians in  Planet Parliament Now!  come from the North West  region of the Amazon where the Rio Negro flows. But you don’t need to travel to the deepest Amazon to fall in love with the rainforest and understand why they  are so devastated their rainforest home is being destroyed by fire and global climate change.

To get you into the right emotional space for our performance on 20th March, here are some extracts from the eco-thriller novel Jabujicaba by Rosa da Silva. Share journalist/activist Carmen’s experiences when she first went there and ended up risking her life to save it.

The very same Carmen is the feisty activist video blogger  in Planet Parliament Now!  Carry on reading to find out where her rainforest passion comes from and to prepare for what you are up against if you are not on her side.

The photographs taken by, conservation student University of Salford were from her recent Tropical Ecology field trip up to the Rio Negro.

Credit: Laura Praill

“THE AMAZON. A forest bigger than anybody who had never been there could possibly imagine. Who hadn’t seen pictures of a lush verdant canopy which stretched as far as the camera’s eye could see, but as Carmen flew over the Amazon for the first time in her life for real, she discovered a forest far beyond the horizons even of her imagining mind. A billion acres of a million shades of green and through the middle, winding like a shiny ribbon, the great river with its thousands branching and meandering tributaries, silting, slowing, rising, falling with the seasonal flood. It was the beginning of all beginnings. Of archetypal myths and dreams and legends.”

Credit: Laura Praill

“THE RIO NEGRO was wide – far wider than it had seemed from the air – the water blacker with forested islands and long sandbanks, as big as an ocean, its intertwining tributaries forming archipelagos and cutting ox-bow lakes. The scenery varied although not dramatically. Carmen took her pictures. Trees leaning low over sandy beaches. Grasslands of marshy sedges and occasionally clearings with small cabal settlements, canoes and açaís palms.

The settlements were never more than a few dozen palm-thatched huts on stilts. Some were on high sandbanks which in the wet season disappeared completely. The settlements became sparser and farther between. They became smaller, tiny then singular and then stopped all together…


Credit: Declan Burley

“THE LEAF LITTER was soft and rotten branches collapsed underfoot. The canopy closed in. They were walking now in a twilight world, where the trunks of ancient trees buttressed the canopy like the arches of a green cathedral. No two trees growing together were ever the same. Some were so tall and dense nothing lived under them at all and the going was easier than Carmen had expected. The rhythm of footfall steadied the mind. Here a plant that had been knocked to earth grew stilts to push itself back into the light and there an old tree had died and young plants burgeoned wildly and each fought the other in the struggle for life. Sometimes a patch of colour on the ground surprised Carmen and she looked up and was startled by the blossom she saw in the canopy high. Purple and yellow and red and pink and orange – flowers of the emergents. And sometimes pure shafts of light fell to earth and sprinkled gold coins at her feet. The forest here was so different from how she had imagined….”

Credit: Declan Burley


DID YOU KNOW? The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest in the world covering an area of over 5.5 million square kilometres. The UK and Ireland would be able to fit into this area 17 times.  It represents over 50% of the rainforests on Earth and embraces 9 South American countries; Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname. Peru has the second-largest portion of the Amazon Rainforest. Illegal loggers – like the wildfires – pay little attention to boundaries.

The Amazon rainforest has one of the world’s richest ecosystems, with around 40,000 plant species, 3000 types of fish, 1300 bird species, 430 mammals and 2.5 million different insects. The Amazon River runs through the North of the rainforest and is the second longest river in the world at around 6400km in length. The Rio Negro is the largest tributary of the Amazon and its name, meaning Black River, arises from the fact that the river looks black from afar, even though it is actually just the colour of very strong tea.

[Edited from original brief by Alex C. for the Jabuji Debates – ]

BACKGROUND BRIEF:  The Rich Amazonians

Other briefs will cover history, geography, sustainable and not so sustainable  development.

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