Joint efforts: WWF shares over 13 years of conservation experience in the largest wetland complex in the Peruvian Amazon
• A publication on key findings and lessons learned was presented
Iquitos, April 17, 2013. In the heart of the Amazon lies the Abanico del Pastaza, a large wetland complex spanning over 3,8 million hectares, where forests, rivers and lakes form a unique and megadiverse landscape. This has been the stage for one of WWF´s most important and long-lasting interventions in Peru, in an area threatened by the overexploitation of fishing resources and intense pollution of its lakes and rivers due to decades of inappropriate oil activities.
With the objective of sharing lessons learned during this period, WWF together with the Regional Government of Loreto and the Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples in San Lorenzo, organized an event in which representatives of the Kandozi and Quechua indigenous peoples shared their experiences regarding community resource management and monitoring and mitigation of oil pollution.
Government authorities, public institution representatives, and settlers from different parts of the Peruvian Amazon attended. the event, held in the auditorium of the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute (IIAP), in the city of Iquitos.
“In the Abanico del Pastaza, several extremely valuable experiences have taken place, such as the recovery of the yellow spotted side neck turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) populations by the Kandozi people, the formal adoption of best fishing practices in the Rimachi Lake, and the implementation of official regulations towards the conservation of key fish species such as the “boquichico” (Prochilodus nigricans)”, stated David Panduro Tafu, Regional Director of Production in LORETO. Furthermore, representatives of the Quechua and Achuar indigenous federations shared their experiences i as communal monitors oil activities in their area, whose results were submitted to the National Congress, achieving in March of this year, a State of Emergency Declaration for the Pastaza basin, due to the high contamination levels in its waters.
Aurelio Chino, President of the Quechua Indigenous Federation of Pastaza, shared an emotional reflection about the process of change he has witnessed in the past years.
“In the past, our people were not aware of the amount of oil spills and heavy metals present in our rivers and swamps. We got sick, but we didn’t know why. Today we are fully aware of the meaning and consequences of this pollution. But not just that,we have implemented our own environmental monitoring group and we send samples and videos to Lima. We have proven that there is pollution in our rivers, and we have demanded to the Government to hold companies involved responsible. This is a radical change for us. With all this work done, we have strengthened our minds and our grassroot organizations, and we are recovering the customs and dignity of our Quechua people.”
The event was carried out under the current context of national debate, regarding development in the Amazon, focused on the need of ensuring sustainability of exploitation activities occurring in natural areas with great biological diversity and presence of indigenous peoples, such as the Abanico del Pastaza.
José Alvarez, Director for Biodiversity of the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), announced the institution´s plans to re-start resources management in the area. A Management Committee of Pastaza will be set up, supported by MINAM, in order to continue WWF’s work in the area.
The event also served as a platform for launching and sharing a publication that brings together experiences and, overall, lessons learned during this intervention.
For more information, videos and to download the publication, click here: www.wwfperu.org/pastaza