The world’s best rainforest guardians already live there

By Peter Yeung
Washington Post
May 1, 2023

BULUKUMBA REGENCY, Indonesia — By midmorning, beams of tropical sun cut through the rainforest canopy, illuminating a bamboo hut in a rare clearing of trees. Inside, a wrinkled old man, sitting cross-legged with his eyes shut, whispers blessings to the Earth.

After the spiritual leader, the Ammatoa, goes silent, groups of men wearing dark indigo sarongs jump to their feet and head into the forest carrying an offering of rattan baskets full of rice, bananas and lighted candles.

The Earth is angry with us,” said Budi, a barefoot boy crouching on the hut’s edge. “That is why the weather is getting worse. There are more rains and floods. It is getting hotter. It is because we have sinned.”

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