Heartbeats of the Amazon: A Story of Local Communities and Climate Change

October 31, 2021

“The people of the Liga Verde community are very concerned at the delay of the seasonal rains, so I want to take advantage of this community meeting to suggest something. I think we should burn a bit of the forest, and convert it for cattle ranching. We cannot be tied down to Brazil nut harvesting.”

“Maria, I understand what you say–you’re one of the most active people in the community and you always have good ideas. But we must be very careful not to start fires that can destroy the forest and reach our homes. We are on red alert.”

This month premiered the first few chapters of the new radionovela series, Heartbeats of the Amazon, developed by our sister organization in Bolivia, Conservación Amazónica-ACEAA. This Spanish language radio mini-series follows the fictional Jorge of the close-knit Liga Verde community in the Bolivian Amazon. Like many in northern Bolivia, the people of Liga Verde have traditionally harvested Brazil nuts as their main economic activity, as this this type of trees grow naturally in the dense Amazonian forests.

However, tensions mount when seasonal rains become more and more delayed, leading some to suggest that instead of being “slaves to the Brazil nut”, they use the slash-and-burn method to raise cattle instead. A concerned Jorge painfully reminds everyone of the drought they experienced a few years ago, and how when someone tried to clear land using fire it ended up tearing through their forest and decimating the following year’s Brazil nut production. “In this community we depend on Brazil nuts…there was nothing to live on that year, our harvests were all empty. Now we are going through a difficult drought again and the rains are very late, so I understand what Maria says, but we must be careful so that the medicine is not worse than the disease.”

Though the story is fictional, it is meant to represent and be relatable to the Amazonian communities the mini-series are broadcasted to. The internet is not always strong or reliable in the middle of the forest, so radio is the most sensible way to reach people. The series will cover the effects of climate change and economic activities that encourage keeping forest standing. In fact, the second episode features Jorge’s daughter Ana, who has just returned from studying environmental engineering at a university in the city. She tells her doubtful father that climate change isn’t just a city myth, it “affects us, it affects the entire planet. There are large and fast disturbances in the climate. Unfortunately it’s come to us too, during the drought in 2016 and also now.”

The idea of promoting conservation through short, relatable stories is not only a unique take on environmental ​​education, but also gives an opportunity to showcase the richness of native flora and fauna and the importance of living in harmony with nature.

“How can we help, as a small community, reduce climate change?” Ana poses this question to her father. “We can help reduce it by taking care of the forests and keeping them standing. In this way, the forests absorb pollution and return fresh air. In addition, the integral management of the forest’s resources, such as Brazil nuts, is economically convenient. In this way we have many more resources than clearing the forest and putting in a monoculture. We take care of nature and it also benefits us.”

This initiative is part of the Amazon Forests and Climate Change Project implemented by our sister organizations Conservación Amazónica-ACEAA in Bolivia and Conservación Amazónica-ACCA in Peru, and the Universidad Amazónica de Pando with the support of EUROCLIMA+.