With all the talk of the importance of protecting the world’s forests as crucial for staving off climate change, they are under relentless pressure from a wide variety of industrial interests: mining, dam-building, mega roads, logging, and agribusiness development.
The work to protect the world’s rainforests still rests with local indigenous communities.
The creation of a 970,000 acre rainforest reserve was announced today in northeastern Peru. It adds to two adjoining reserves, creating a combined protected zone of over 4 million acres.
The new Maijuna Reserve is 22% larger than California’s Yosemite National Park, and consists of a vast forest wilderness, part of which is home to the indigenous Maijuna people, who
number fewer than 200 adults and their children.
Maijuna leaders, recognizing the growing threats to their culture and the forest that sustains them, are committed to preserving their language, cultural traditions and natural environment.
The proposal to create the reserve was prepared by the Regional Government Program for the Conservation, Management and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Loreto (PROCREL), in cooperation with Nature and Culture International and the
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Blue Moon Foundation provided financial support, and The Field Museum
conducted the biodiversity assessment that established the
Regional Conservation Area. Research professionals from the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and George Mason University conducted ecological and socio-economic evaluations of key natural resources. They will partner with Nature and Culture
International and the Maijuna People to develop and implement a conservation management plan for the new reserve.
"With the addition of this reserve, Nature and Culture International has been directly involved in protection of more than 8.7 million acres of tropical forest in Latin America – where we plan to conserve at least 25 million acres more during the remainder of this decade," says founder Ivan Gayler.
Also in Guyana, South America
The indigenous Wapichan people of Guyana unveiled a digital map of their traditional territory along with a ground-breaking community proposal to care for 1.4 million hectares of pristine
rainforest for the benefit of their communities and the world.
The territory’s ecosystems are home to 20 communities who make a living from small-scale farming, hunting, fishing and gathering, which they have practised for hundreds of years.
The grassroots proposal comes at a crucial time because the entire Wapichan territory in Guyana, like many other parts of the Amazon basin and Guiana Shield, is threatened by mega road and dam projects as well as external plans for logging, mining and agribusiness development.
Many indigenous peoples across Guyana and South America are vulnerable to land grabs and marginalization because they lack secure legal title over much of their traditional lands.
The Wapichan people have responded to these threats by mapping their customary land use as part of a long-standing campaign to have their rights to their traditional lands legally recognised.
From 2008-2011, there have been more than 80 community consultations, workshops and public meetings to develop collective proposals to promote sustainable land use, support local
livelihoods and protect Wapichan territory against harmful development.
They are contained in a detailed territorial plan, Thinking Together for Those Coming Behind Us, which elaborates the customary laws for caring for the land and contains more than 40 community agreements to secure community land rights, safeguard and sustainably use valuable livelihood resources and
conserve important cultural heritage and wildlife sites under
community controlled reserves.