(This article is currently under review.)
A group of illegal loggers at the edge of the Peruvian and Brazilian border cut down the ‘World’s Oldest Tree’ after assumedly not noticing that they were deep within the Matsés Indigenous Reserve (a place where logging is illegal). In effect of this offensive act, the local conservation organizations and native indigenous communities are infuriated.
If it is not startling enough that in the last 40 years loggers have deforested approximately 20% of the Amazon rain forest, the latest news claiming illegal loggers have cut down what experts claim to be the “oldest living tree in the world” will shock and infuriate many.
Once a giant Samauma tree – thought to be over 5,800 years old and measured to be close to 40 meteres in height – expanded its branches above the forest floor, selflessly converted carbon dioxide into oxygen, and provided shelter for a diverse range of species. The majestic tree was also a major part of the nearby tribes cultural landscape, with countless generations of natives witnessing its growth through the years and including it in their culture.
Local tribesman leader Tahuactep of the Matsés tribe spoke out, “It is the Mother spirit of the rain forest, from this spirit-tree came the life force of all things. They have destroyed Aotclp-Awak, they have brought darkness upon not only our people, but the whole world.”
Once again, the near-sightedness of those seeking to make quick money at the expense of the ecoystem, its people, and the world herself have caused devastation in an unspeakable way.
“For many generations, the Mother tree has brought my people health and good fortune. The roots of the Mother tree spread throughout the rainforest and bring its life spirit to the world. What will be left of the animals, of the plants, and of our people now that the Mother spirit is gone?” quested Kalahuaptl, a local shaman. “They have murdered the Mother spirit knowingly, they have done this to kill our people and take the spoils of the land” he added, obviously shaken by the destruction and its consequences (according to WNDR).
Kalahupatl is not the only one who believes the cutting down of the great Samauma tree was intentional; Anna Golding, a reseracher for non-profit organization and conservancy group Rainforest Protection Coalition (RPC), an initiative stemming from Berkeley University in California, agrees. “There are large portions of this national reserve that are rich in oil and natural gas. There has been committed action by energy corporations to lobby the government to exploit the area for years. The protected zones have been cut in half over the past decade and this is only their latest attempt to get rid of the local populations who are fighting to preserve their cultural heritage and lifestyle” she relays.
Anna does not believe that the illegal loggers are the only ones responsible for the atrocious act: “These actions are clearly perpetrated with the consent of local authorities and the government. If this wasn’t the case, why are local enforcement agencies not prosecuting these corporations? Why are these loggers free to keep doing what they are doing? That is the bigger question.”
In the time it took to read this short article, an area of Brazil’s rainforest larger than 200 football fields was destroyed. The Mother spirit tree is not the only victim of late; the indigenous tribes, the entire world that relies on purified air, the generations to come, and those that are suffering ill-effects from imbalanced powers deciding their fate – tempting them to cut down forest to reap short-term rewards – are all suffering… some are just more aware than others.
What will happen when all the trees are cut down, when the oceans are completely polluted, when those that benefit from the unsustainable system wake up and realize there is no more food…? We – as a species, as a connected world – cannot afford to be ignorant any longer, as the signs are prevalent and the need to change is obvious.