Managing community resources in the Peruvian Amazon
Latin America/Caribbean > South America > Peru
The Peruvian Amazon is home to some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife such as the jaguar, harpy eagle, scarlet macaw, giant river otter and black spider monkey. It is also home to many indigenous communities that rely on the forests as a way of life.
WWF is working with 20 indigenous communities in Peru’s Condorcanqui Province near the border of Ecuador, assisting them with techniques to improve land use and natural resource management. This includes conducting a forest inventory and managing several sustainable cacao plantations.
This project has been developed within the framework of a gradual articulation process of Awajun and Wampis indigenous peoples and global society, as described in Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention of 1989).
For this reason, proposed actions to overcome current poverty indices are not limited to the sole implementation of productive activities linked to the market. The importance of traditional mechanisms of family and community organizations, social control and articulation with the environment has been recognized.
Based on this scenario, the project's main objective is expected to be achieved through the implementation of 3 main components:
1) Strengthening of socio-organizational capacities of indigenous communities and their representative organizations.
2) Land tenure and titling of indigenous communities.
3) Improvement of family productive systems in order to increase family income.
The project's main goal is to reduce poverty levels of indigenous communities in the districts of Río Santiago, Nieva and Cenepa, in the Amazon region through the sustainable management of natural resources.
It seeks to allow 600 families belonging to 20 indigenous communitites to implement land management plans as well as to sustainably manage their natural resources in a way that will allow them to increase their income as well as improve their social organization.
The solution is based on working towards the capacity building of communities and their representative federations, conflict resolution of natural resource use, organization of current timber extraction activities, the incorporation of a market component (cocoa) in the agroforestry production systems of the Awajun-Wampis, in addition to strengthening capacities regarding the installment and rehabilitation of family fish farms.
The project’s 3 components seek to solve specific problems:
Component 1: Strengthening of socio-organizational capacities of indigenous communities and their representative organizations.
This component seeks to resolve the main causes that have created continuous failures in previous initiatives to carry out productive activities. The deficiency in technical capacities to resolve problems such as post harvesting management, forest planning, as well as having effective family and/or communal government structures that would appropriately work with small and medium enterprise initiatives will be targeted.
Component 2: Land tenure and titling of indigenous communities.
A previous condition to the correct natural resource management of indigenous communities is the resolution of conflicts related to rights to land use, access and control within their communities. Pending conflicts currently exist that will be resolved through pending communal enlargements as well as definition of land use norms.
Component 3: Improvement of family productive systems in order to increase family income.
In the short run we seek to increase the participation of income generating activities in local productive lines that to a certain extent are familiar to the targeted populations, and that simultaneously are profitable enough to exceed the high transportation costs between the communities, Santa María de Nieva and Bagua Chica. Hence, productive activities that have been selected include the organization of current timber extraction activities (so as to improve efficiency and transfer hidden costs in timber transportation to the producer), the harvesting of other forest products, the inclusion of cocoa in local agroforestry systems, and the production of protein for self consumption and/or sale in family-owned fish farms.
From July through December 2006, the main project successes have been:
- Signing of grants with 4 indigenous organisations in the area. The indigenous Aguaruna and Huambisa people of the area are organized in 4 different federations (Organization for the Development of Communities in the Cenepa Border - ODECOFROC, Aguaruna Huambisa Council - CAH, Sub-Headquarters Aguaruna Huambisa Council - Subsede CAH, and the Regional Organisation of Indigenous Amazonian Peoples of Peru - ORPIAN-P). The objective of these grants is for WWF to work jointly with the federations so that they are strengthened as institutions, and are able to support the project in a sustainable manner.
- Productive activities in the indigenous communities are well underway: there are 27 fish farms, 15 pilot fish farms, 219 hectares are being used for cacao plantations and 42,800 plants have been grafted in an area of 68.48 hectares. General plans for forest management cover an area of 119,646 hectares. These activities will offer sustainability in the future.
- The benefited population has begun to question the consequences of illegal activities on resource management regarding the obtained communal benefits.
- An exploratory forest inventory has been conducted in 4 communities, in an area of 58,000 hectares in the basins of the Santiago and Dominguza rivers.