Territorial Surveillance Program

The territorial surveillance program is the cornerstone of the Kayapo Project. The ICFC provides the Kayapo People the tools they need to ensure the protection of their constitutionally recognized territorial rights.

The Kayapo people act as stewards for a vast rainforest located in the South-East Amazon. Their willingness to fight and organizational skills have secured constitutional rights over more than 100,000 km2 of indigenous territory. Situated at the border of industrial development, Kayapo’s land is constantly under the threat of illegal invasions by goldminers, loggers, and ranchers.

Despite this, the Kayapo stand strong. The key to their success lies in the alliance they’ve forged with NGOs, empowering them to defend their territory against outside invasions and to fend off any attempts to infringe upon their rights.

The International Conservation Fund of Canada ICFC has been a steadfast ally to the Kayapo for more than 20 years. Together, we work to ensure the territorial integrity of Kayapo’s land and the preservation of their cultural identity.

Read our Territoral surveillance reports

The Kayapo border guard posts provide a shield behind which other conservation and development program can grow.

Guard Posts

The guard posts program supports organization and administration for the Kayapo to monitor and protect much of their 2,200 km (1,375 miles) of border demarcating their protected forested territory from frontier society. Guard posts signal to outside frontier society that the Kayapo of an area are organized to defend their ratified land rights and would-be invaders do not attempt entry. Under the guard post program, inherent Kayapo drive to protect their territory, culture and livelihoods combines with equitably accessed income to produce a strong social antidote to the seduction and bribing of individuals by goldminers, loggers, and fishermen.

Fifteen guard posts are managed by three Kayapo NGOs : Associação Floresta Protegida, Instituto Kabu and Instituto Raoni.

Learn more about Kayapo's Guard Posts

Map: The state of the 10.6  million hectare block of ratified Kayapo Indigenous territory in  January 2022. Kayapo indigenous territories  are outlined in yellow (NGO Kayapo project territory) with an eastern band of ~ 1.2 million hectares outlined in purple (does not form part of this project) that receives no conservation NGO investment and has been lost to the frontier of illegal activity (logging and mining).

“We had many problems and difficulties; vehicles breaking down, teams having to move location at night, boats sinking, loggers threatening guards, trees falling on post living quarters, scorpion stings, and various other difficulties that happened on a daily basis -but we held strong -determined to fulfill our commitment to protect Kayapo territory against illegal predators”


Director of Kayapo surveillance, December 2021


Expeditions by foot and river complement the role of guard posts for occupying and defending sections of border not yet monitored by a guard post. They are also important venues for transmission of traditional territorial and cultural knowledge from elder to youth; and therefore, provide training in traditional and modern territorial surveillance as well as instilling Kayapo pride.

Discover Kayapo Expeditions


Surveillance Reports

On behalf of the Kayapo, we are pleased to report that over nine million hectares (23 million acres) of Kayapo forest territory held strong in 2023. This result would not have been possible without philanthropic support. This report outlines the success and challenges of the Kayapo territorial surveillance program in 2023. The program, part of a broader initiative aimed at empowering the Kayapo people for the protection of their land and rights, focuses on monitoring and
safeguarding their territory from immediate threats of illegal logging, gold-mining, and fishing.
In 2023, political support from the Lula government improved conditions for indigenous communities like the Kayapo, allowing them to focus on their mission without significant interference.

The report highlights the extensive coverage of the Kayapo’s territorial monitoring and surveillance program. The program spans over nine million hectares of Kayapo territory, with 16 guard posts strategically located along vulnerable entry points. These posts serve as both a physical deterrent and signal the Kayapo’s organized defense of their constitutional land rights. The report details the infrastructure and administration of guard posts, emphasizing strategies and rationale for logistics, communication, and guard team rotation. Despite logistical challenges, including difficult terrain and remote locations, the guard post program maintains an effective presence along the border.

Report on Kayapo Territorial Monitoring and Control

We are pleased to report that over nine million hectares (23 million acres) of Kayapo forest territory held strong for a fourth year despite the relentless attacks on the forest and its indigenous people during Bolsonaro’s government. This result would not have been possible without philanthropic support

In 2022 the government continued their campaign to destabilize indigenous organizations with the objective of removing barriers to occupation of indigenous
territory by logging, mining, soy plantations, and ranching. The three Kayapo NGOs are among the  highest functioning indigenous NGOs in Brazil and
together protect the largest continuous tract of indigenous territory.

Kayapo territory held. Kayapo NGO programs operated in full last year including trade in Brazil nut and cumaru nut, the AUkre international field course, sportfishing on the Xingu and Iriri rivers, territorial management planning (PGATI), and REDD carbon project planning -with the crucial territorial surveillance program continuing to run uninterrupted. The government’s anti-indigenous, anti-environmental campaign ultimately proved unsuccessful in Kayapo territory due to the competence and unfailing commitment of the three Kayapo NGOs.

The major result to report is that by the end of 2022, with all NGO programs operating and territorial surveillance expanded, 2,200 km (1,365 miles) of border held for the most part and over nine million hectares (23 million acres) of Kayapo territory remains largely intact.

Read the full report

The three Kayapo NGOs managed to implement their territorial surveillance programs throughout the dry season months of the pandemic in 2020. Surveillance was the sole program able to function in 2020 and saved Kayapo territory from extensive and probably irreversible invasion. Kayapo territorial surveillance produced outstanding forest protection results again in 2021. Two new guard posts were added to western border defense in 2021; Kawatum and Kubenkokre, bringing the total to 12 guard posts that operated from June or July until mid-December. Guard posts signal to outside society that the Kayapo are organized to defend and control access to their territory. Invasions occur only where there is no consistent Kayapo surveillance presence. The twelve guard posts generated a total of US$ 300,000 income for Kayapo communities of the NGO alliance.


To augment Kayapo presence along vulnerable sections of border unmonitored by a guard post, Kayapo NGOs enabled several communities to undertake a total of 10 expeditions by river and on foot. These expeditions served the purposes last year of:

  • holding ranchers at bay by re-clearing 20 km of an 80-km section of dry line trail (i.e. border not demarcated by a river) and for verifying location of the official boundary, included relocating official federal government geodesic markers fixed to the ground to demarcate indigenous territory;
  • with the remote, fly-in communities of the upper Riozinho river initiating a program of land-based surveillance and territorial occupation along a difficult access interior border;
  • reinforcing the narrative of protection and sustainable development with the remote community of Kubenkranken that was subject to manipulation by goldminers during the pandemic because of the absence of their local NGO;
  • beginning consistent surveillance by the Kayapo of the vast interior of TI Bau and giving notice to small historical goldmining operations there that their time had run out;
  • initiating the ultimately successful process of deactivating a dangerous road-accessible goldmine that has begun just inside the Kayapo’s northern border.

The effectiveness of the Kayapo territorial surveillance program was demonstrated again in 2021 (Map 1). The Kayapo blocked goldmining, logging, predatory fishing, and encroachment by ranchers along all but about 160 km of their 2,200-km border—and this in a region of high threat with next to no enforcement and tacit support of the government for illegal activity in protected areas.


  • access by loggers along the western border of the huge Kayapo territory of Mekragnoti was ended definitively
  • The Novo Horizonte goldmine in the interior of TI Bau that was shut down by the community of Bau in late 2020 remains abandoned
  • Goldminers lost their effort to persuade the remote interior community of Kubenkranken to allow them entry.

An Iriri guard post team


A slice of northwestern Kayapo territory TI Bau bounded by about 160 km of exposed border west of the Curua River and lying adjacent the BR 163 highway was largely unprotected before 2021; and the result was invasion by goldminers and loggers in 2021. (In 2022 reinforced surveillance by the community of Bau will hold this invasion to the western bank of the Curua river, thereby protecting over 1.3 million hectares of the rest of TI Bau).