Wood figurines feed Amazon forest communities

Americas Now

Figurines made from chopped down trees in the Amazon rainforest are sources of income to hundreds of people in Brazil

They may be simple little images of local wildlife from Brazil’s Amazon rainforest but for those who sell them — and for the tourists who buy them — they’re more than just a trinket. These little figurines are helping feed hundreds of families — while giving visitors an endearing memory of the Amazon rainforest.    

Miguel Rocha da Silva was brought up in the Amazon, the son of a rubber tapper, and the only one of his 19 brothers and sisters to receive an education. Thirty years ago, he had an idea. He found out that the Amazon was strewn with thrown-away wood – cast off by loggers.   

He decided to use this raw material to make art. His timing was perfect. It coincided with the Brazilian government banning hunting in the Amazon in the early 1990s – stripping away a traditional source of income for thousands of people.  

Instead he taught those same people to make little images of frogs and local wildlife, to be sold to visiting tourists. The Almerinda Malaquias Foundation he established now raises $120,000 a year, feeding hundreds of families of the workers, and giving visitors a long lasting memory of the forest too.  

CGTN’s Stephen Gibbs has the story.