Amazon diary

Amazon diary

Fergus Nicoll in the city of Manaus, Amazonas State, Brazil

Fergus Nicoll in the Amazon city of Manaus

Who should decide the fate of the Amazon rainforest? The people who live there? The Brazilian government? The international community? Or individuals all over the world?

The Amazon Paradox is the struggle between the needs of local people to exploit the rainforest and the global need to preserve its unique nature and resources for the whole world.

On 15 May, BBC journalists reported from across the Amazon: the BBC's Fergus Nicoll travelled to the biggest city in the region - Manaus - in the heart of pristine rainforest.

End of Section

Part four - to read parts one and two of Fergus' diary, click here.

Sambadrome dancer

One of the revellers at Manaus' Sambadrome

The concrete stadium was filled with high-stepping dancers, wearing red t-shirts and swirling Indian feathered head-dresses and dancing to punchy LOUD music.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Sambadrome!

Here's how it works. Amazon Indian myth describes the sacrifice of a bull to satisfy the cravings of a pregnant village woman. Myth becomes the annual Parantins festival.

Manaus hosts hectic practice sessions, featuring cheerful competition between rival teams of line-dancers in red and blue.

It's a rowdy Saturday night out - but not for wall-flowers: the only reason to be there is to dance your socks off till four in the morning.

Highbrow alternative

Manaus opera house

Manaus Opera House provides a different cultural experience

On the other side of town, the Opera House - built in 1896 with appropriate colonial grandeur - is offering a repertoire ranging from Sibelius to a frisky Amazonian operetta about chocolate cake envy.

What makes it intriguing is that most of the performers in the Amazonas Experimental Philarmonic Orchestra are students from deprived backgrounds.

Like the line-dancing, this classical music is firmly rooted in local traditions - albeit presented with the gloss of European high culture.

End of Section

Part three

Fergus' hammock

Our luxury sleeping accommodation

The Brazilian army starts work early and my jungle hammock is shaken by Sergeant Alexandre at 05.25 hours precisely.

Waking is a strange sensation. First the noise: a constant buzzing, cheeping, cawing, yammering din of birds and insects.

Then the awareness of being fully dressed under mosquito net and nylon bivouac, swaying slightly above the ground.

I'm the guest of Brazil's elite jungle warfare training unit, the Centro de Instrução de Guerra na Selva, or CIGS for short.

CIGS soldiers

Brazil's elite jungle warfare unit recite their morning prayers

Fierce pride

"Selva!" - "Jungle!" - is the morning greeting. It's a constant refrain. The soldiers use it on meeting and departure, and to respond to orders, an affirmation of their identity.

The emblem of this fiercely proud unit is the jaguar, the jungle cat whose ferocity is matched by its intelligence and ability to vanish instantly.

CIGS runs 11-week combat courses for officers and senior NCOs facing deployment in Brazil's vast Amazon region - many destined to patrol the long borders with Bolivia and Colombia, where the thick jungle cloaks the transport routes used by cocaine smugglers.

But even after my courses in finding safe jungle food and water, making fires in the rain and using night-vision goggles to move through the trees, a return to the deep jungle is an intimidating prospect.

Still: Selva!

End of Section

To read parts one and two of Fergus' diary, click here.

For a guide to listening to the Amazon Paradox, click here.