The Kayapo Project

The Kayapo Project is a flagship program of the International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC). ICFC and our US based partner EDF provide surveillance infrastructure and administrative services to Kayapó NGOs including boats, outboard engines, radios, 4X4 vehicles, expedition supplies, fuel, equipment maintenance, accounting and also capacity building workshops. We enable Kayapó NGOs to perform overflight surveillance and ground patrols with the result that several foci of illegal activity have been identified over the years: goldmining, logging and encroachment by ranchers.

International Conservation Fund of Canada

Key Moments of the Kayapo Project

Since 2008, The International Conservation Fund of Canada has been the primary international NGO partner, but the Kayapo Project builds on almost 40 years of ongoing community-NGO-government collaborations. See the timeline below to learn about important events and activities.

1987 – Kayapó leaders Paiakan and Kuben-I visit Florida International University with Daryll Posey and Janet Chernela. They visit Washington DC and see plans for the Belo Monte Dam

1988 – Paiakan meets Dr. Barbara Zimmerman on a fundraising tour around Canada with David Suzuki

1989 – Belo Monte Dam Protest – the Kayapo protest at Altamira supported by funds raised in Canada has international media coverage and succeeds in convincing the World Bank to drop their loan for building the dam. The Kayapo gain global recognition as forest protectors. Paiakan invites Barbara Zimmerman to visit his community of A’Ukre.

2000 – 2004 Conservation International (CI) receives money from Global Conservation Fund to expand Kayapo Project from A’Ukre to across the territories

2002 – First of its kind agreement signed between Associação Floresta Protegida – FUNAI – and CI

2006 – Conservation International sponsored Kayapo Leaders Meeting in Piaraçu, (All Tis)

2008 – ICFC takes over primary administration of the Kayapo Project

Pinkaiti Ecological Research Station (Pinkaiti) was conceptualized to preserve Kayapo forests; strengthen Kayapo culture; create an economic alternative to regional mahogany logging; initiate a tropical ecology research program; and strengthen Kayapo transnational networks. After leaving A’Ukre, Zimmerman recruited Conservation International, an international environmental NGO as an institutional partner.

1991 – Barbara Zimmerman, Director of the Kayapo Project, visited the Mẽbêngôkre-Kayapó community of A’Ukre. A’Ukre and Zimmerman came up with an idea to create the Pinkaiti.

1992 – Barbara Zimmerman and Paiakan receive support from Conservation International and Suzuki, to create Pinkaiti Research Station in A’Ukre, a 5,000 hectare area 11km from A’Ukre where no hunting or logging is permitted.

Mebêngôkre-Kayapó indigenous community in A’Ukre. Kayapó Indigenous Land, Ourilândia do Norte, Pará, Brazil. Photo: Pedro Peloso

1997 – Pinkaiti expands from 5,000 hectares to 8,000 hectares. Pinkaiti is a no-hunting or logging zone designated by the community to support ecological research activity at their field station.

1997 – Kayapo Association Kayapo Center for Ecological Studies, based in Redenção is recognized by the Brazilian government to administer Pinkaiti and other projects.

2004 – Field course starts in A’Ukre with University of Maryland College Park

The establishment and growth of the three Kayapo NGOs play a pivotal role in empowering Kayapo communities and safeguarding their ancestral land.

2002 – Creation of Associação Floresta Protegida (AFP) and Instituto Raoni

2008 – Creation of Instituto Kabu

2015 – Kayapo Media Collective Beture established at AFP

A core component of the Kayapo Project is the establishment of avenues for generating sustainable streams income for Kayapo communities which are based upon Kayapo traditional knowledge and culture and which help protect the rainforest and the rivers.

2004 – Brazil Nuts trade : The Brazil nut harvest is a cornerstone sustainable enterprise of the Kayapo, because of the abundance of the nuts and and the forest ecology combined with reliable domestic markets for Brazil nuts in the food industry. Learn more

2012 – Sport Fishing begins on the Iriri : A collaboration involving Associacao Floresta Protegida, Untamed Angling, and various Kayapo communities, offers a venue for exploration of the rainforest in a manner that honors the environment and promotes fairness for the indigenous hosts. Learn more

2019 – Sport Fishing begins on the Xingu : After the success of the sportfishing venue on the Iriri River, Untamed Angling established a second fishing lodge near the Kamotjam community on the Xingu River. Learn more

2020 – Guard Posts Program Begins : The initiation of the guard post programs represents a step towards safeguarding Kayapo land and culture. 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. Learn more