The future of the ‘Abanico del Pastaza’ is in good hands: local leaders and national authorities committed to its conservation
• The Minister of the Environment and local organizations strengthened their joint commitment towards a better dialogue to overcome the existing environmental problems
Lima, June 21, 2013. “Respect, integrity and a willingness to dialogue shown during this experience are an example of both the conservation and sustainable development of our Amazon and its people”, stated Patricia Leon Melgar, WWF Peru Director, after inaugurating the event “10+ years in the Abanico del Pastaza: nature, cultures and challenges in the North Peruvian Amazon”.
During the event that took place on June 20th, representatives shared over a decade of joint work with the indigenous peoples and authorities who foster the recovery and conservation of this region in the North Peruvian Amazon. Most importantly, it was an opportunity to strengthen commitments towards the conservation of one of the most naturally and culturally diverse regions in the Amazon.
The Abanico del Pastaza, located between the Pastaza and Corrientes Rivers within the region of Loreto, is the largest wetland complex in the Peruvian Amazon. Across 3.8 million hectares, flooded forests and swamps converge with rivers and lakes in a territory that is home and sustenance to more than 300 indigenous communities of the ethnic groups Quechua, Achuar, and Kandozi, among others.
Despite the extraordinary natural and cultural diversity of this region, in the late 90s, the Abanico was practically unknown to the rest of the country, and because of this, its ecosystems were seriously threatened by overexploitation and pollution produced by decades of unsustainable oil activities.
Since then, indigenous peoples have advanced towards the recovery of their resources and territory.
Thanks to them, and with the help of WWF, in 2002 the Abanico del Pastaza became the largest Ramsar site (wetland of international importance) in Peru. Populations of fish, turtles and other species have recovered through strict management plans and today, the communities constantly monitor the extractive activities taking place in and around their forests, lakes and rivers in order to protect the health of their people and that of the ecosystem. However, the challenges still continue, and it is in this particular context that the commitment of the Minister of the Environment, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, reaffirmed during this event, is the best news for the local communities.
“Today, Pastaza’s indigenous peoples, the Government and organizations such as WWF, are aware of the hard work to be done, but they are also conscious that we are starting to learn and walk together, using dialogue as a tool and conservation as a mechanism for development. I congratulate WWF for these 10 years plus, both for its work done and what it represents”, stated the Minister.
The event was also an opportunity to recognize the valuable labor of different public and private organizations for their critical participation in the progress made, especially the Embassies of Belgium, United States, Switzerland, Great Britain and the Kingdom of Netherlands, as well as the Hewlett Packard Company, whose financial support has made the work possible.
The event concluded with the presentation of the “10+ years in the Abanico del Pastaza” publication and the commitment expressed by both the indigenous organizations and authorities present to lead the work necessary to foster, through dialogue, the development of the communities in the area and the conservacion of biological diversity.
To learn more about this experience, download the publication “10+ years in the Abanico del Pastaza”. For photos and videos, visit www.wwfperu.org/pastaza