The Mundurucu Indians have sold their rights to 23,000 sq. kilometers (8,880 sq. miles) of land in the Brazilian Amazon to the Irish company Celestial Green Ventures, one of the world's leading firms in the world carbon-credits market, the press reported.
The $120 million deal was not approved by the entire tribe and is being investigated by the government, which questions the validity of the 30-year contract that bars the indigenous community from legally logging or growing crops in its territory, the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.
The land is in the Jacareacanga municipality in the northern state of Para, and authorities fear that this surrender of land rights will endanger biodiversity and the development of the Indian community, the paper said after its staff was allowed to study the contract.
Another of the articles questioned in the contract is the company's free access to indigenous territory, which by law is autonomous in granting or refusing entry to people outside the community, even including the Brazilian army.
The National Indian Foundation, or Funai, has 30 similar contracts on record between indigenous ethnicities and European companies that trade in carbon credits, a mechanism that compensates for gas emissions by industrial companies, chiefly in the developed world.
Celestial Green Ventures has 16 projects in the Brazilian Amazon region that together cover almost 200,000 sq. kilometers (77,220 sq. miles), an area twice the size of Portugal.
Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira commented that Brazil must make sure that "opportunities to increase the value of biodiversity are not used to disguise acts of biopiracy."
The Irish company's representative in Brazil, Ciaran Kelly, said that all contracts are submitted to a "rigorous process of free, previous and informed consent on the part of the Indian communities, while respecting international standards for the regulation of the environment."