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Cattle ranchers, the Monte Pascoal National Park and carbon offsets in Pataxo indigenous territory, Brazil


The fight of the indigenous Pataxo-Ha-Ha-Hae population in the south east of the State of Bahia for their lands has been lasting for long.

Already at the end of XIXth century and during the beginning of the XX century they had to confront land grabbing for cacao plantations. The reserve Caramuru-Paraguaçu was created in 1926 in the area they were concentrating after the continuous reduction of their lands. Following governmental violence, Caramuru-Paraguaçu was reduced to 36,000 ha and the inhabitants of the reserve continued suffering forced displacements, imposed by the FUNAI.

Progresses in Brazilian law in favor of indigenous’ rights do not automatically translate into a better and effective respect of the latter.

Even after the adoption of the Indian Statute in 1973, ranchers continued to settle in Caramuru-Paraguaçu. All along the 1980 decade Pataxo-Ha-Ha-Hae people fought for the recovery of their lands.

Pataxo refugees in Minas Gerais returned to their lands and started occupying the Sao Lucas ranch. They went to court demanding the cease of further relocations. The court ruled in their favor. However, violent altercations with the ranchers didn’t end.

In more recent times Pataxo people continue to fight to defend their territorial land rights, still under occupation of cattle ranchers. Part of their territory was also turned into the Monte Pascoal National Park. Additionally a carbon offset project (through the United Nations REDD mechanism) was launched in Pataxo territory too. The recovery of degraded forest was founded by the sale of carbon credits. The project favors private landowners and multinationals (financing their right to emit greenhouse gases) while Pataxo people traditional livelihoods are disregarded by traditional conservationist views.

Indigenous peoples’ territorial rights have recently been threatened by the constitutional amendment proposal ‘PEC 215’. If adopted, it would have restricted indigenous lands’ recognition. The rejection of the amendment early 2015 was a victory celebrated nation-wide. In their fight the Pataxo people have addressed crucial issues for Brazilian society: justice, equal dignity for indigenous people, recognition of their civil and political rights, recovery of their ancestral territories and protection for the identity and dignity of the people [2].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Cattle ranchers, the Monte Pascoal National Park and carbon offsets in Pataxo indigenous territory, Brazil
State or province:Bahia (southeastern)
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Land
Carbon offsets

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The carbon offset area between the Monte Pascoal and Pau Brasi National Parks covers 1.000 ha.

Project area:22,500
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1951
Company names or state enterprises:Kraft Foods Global, Inc.
Natura Cosméticos
Relevant government actors:IBAMA, Service for the Protection of Indians: "Serviço de Proteção ao Índio" (SPI) ancestor of the current FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio)
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI) - Brazil, Cultural Survival, Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Social movements
Pataxo indigenous communities
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil erosion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Proposal and development of alternatives:The protesters ask to retrieve their own lands.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The indigenous population do not retrieve their own lands, and do not have any other form of compensation.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

ILO Convention 69

Indian Statute - 1973 "expressly forbids leasing contracts with non-Indians for the exploitation of the resources of Indian lands" [1]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Protected areas Against Who? World Rainforest Movement. Oilwatch 2004

REDD in Brazil - Two case studies on early forest carbon offset projects, J. Kill, HBS Foundation, 2014

Report: The Monte Pascoal‐Pau Brasil ecological corridor carbon, community and biodiversity initiative: another carbon offset failure

Special Bulletin: The struggle of the Pataxo, WRM

[1] The Pataxo of Bahia: Persecution and Discrimination Continue, Cultural Survival

[2] Brazil: Monte Pascoal National Park belongs to the Pataxo, WRM, November 1999

Conselho Indigenista Missionario

Brazil: The Pataxo’s struggle for their territory continues, Pascoal, 19/08/2007, World Rainforest Movement

The Pataxó people of Brazil: the recreation of a culture, A. Ulrich

Brazilian Indians secure nationwide land victory, Latin America Bureau, 22/01/2015

Special Bulletin: The struggle of the Pataxó, WRM

Another carbon offset failure: The Monte Pascoal-Pau Brasil ecological corridor, REDD monitor, 17/04/2014

A Brief History of the Indians of Southern Bahia, Brazil, Cultural Survival

REDD, Neo-Colonialism in the Land of the Pataxo Warriors, Americas Program, 26/11/2014

Worldwide protests demand stop to Brazil’s assault on indigenous rights, Survival, 2/10/2013

Brazil: Pataxo recover traditional lands, WRM Bulletin 26, August 1999

Meta information

Contributor:Lucie Greyl & Camila Rolando Mazzuca
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:480



Indigenous people of ethnic Pataxo defending their land, October 2014

October 2014, Pataxo people closed the highway asking for the return their land

On / Santiago Navarro F.