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For the First Time, Indigenous Groups in the Amazon Assess Ecosystem Services of their Territory & Impacts if They Disappear

April 26, 2018 |

By Fábio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr [CC BY 3.0 br (], via Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published on WWF.

““Our grandparents knew our territory well, its sacred and productive places and the risks we assumed if we did not use resources appropriately. But part of that ancestral wisdom remained with them and was not registered or was difficult to translate into a language that would allow us to defend our territory and make decisions. Today we know how to access that information.”

These are the words of José Zafiama, a teacher of the Uitoto people and member of the Azicatch Indigenous organization, which brings together the Uitoto, Muinane, Bora, and Ocaina peoples of La Chorrera district in the Predio Putumayo Indigenous Reserve, the largest in the Colombian Amazon. José just finished presenting the results for the first ecosystem services analysis in his territory, and he cannot stop smiling. He knows that his community has achieved an important precedent for his territory that can become a key tool for the sustainable development of other indigenous peoples in the Amazon.”

…The achievements still amaze participants. In the words of Chela Umire, one of the women from the Muinane people who participated in the process, “We never thought we could learn something like this. At first everything seemed complicated, but we eventually learned how to use a GPS, to understand maps and find specific places, and to comprehend the size of our territory.”

Young and elderly women and men representing four indigenous peoples formed part of the team and joined their voices and knowledge to consider the contribution that an indigenous vision can make to forest conservation.

“This process allowed us to become close to our grandparents again, to work with women and with the four communities as a single team. I particularly liked preserving traditional wisdom and complementing it with western elements. We know our territory, but we knew very little about it technically and got to learn about it,” says José Miller Teteye, another member of the team from the Bora people.

…Indigenous peoples have conserved forests because forests are like our mother. It is very important for us to keep taking care of productive spaces and sacred places, and this project is a tool to protect our territory, to make decisions. We want to keep conserving the forest, and now we have more information to do so,” says Tirso…”

Read on at: WWF.

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