In Ecuador, for example, the indiscriminate logging of balsa wood has begun, exerting great pressure on the middle and lower basin of the Pastaza river in the territory of the Achuar nationality, as well as that of other nationalities, such as the Kichwa, Shuar and Waorani. The situation highlights the disastrous extent of the impacts of extractivism in the Amazon region.
What’s more, amid a global health emergency, the effects on the local population are even greater. In the Ecuadorian Amazon, the so-called ‘balsa fever’, which has seen the arrival of hundreds of loggers seeking to fell this precious Amazonian wood, became the fatal focus of the coronavirus contagion in Amazonian Indigenous communities that would otherwise have been cut off from the world.
There is much international demand for balsa wood, which is both light and very resistant – and is used to manufacture the blades of wind power generators in Europe and China. Together with my colleagues, Bryan Garces and Lenin Montahuano and the communication team of Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE), ‘Lanceros Digitales’, we decided to document the growing impact of the balsa fever through visits to the territory, particularly to that of the Achuar nationality.