Indigenous developed forest protection plan
Wapichan communities of Guyana, presented a proposal to the government of that country to give them the care of 1.4 million hectares of native forests. Its aim is to preserve and protect that area of industries that could threaten its biodiversity and natural resources.
"One of the main concerns is by mining, which is [an activity] new to this area and concerned about its impact on the land," he told SciDev.Net Kid James, of the Association for the Development of Peoples Zone South Central (SCPDA, for its acronym in English).
The area in question is located in the southwest, bordering the Amazon basin. Wapichan 20 communities living there, which since 2002 made a map to identify the area claimed.
Using GPS technology delineated what they consider their ancestral lands map that was presented on February 7.
"This forest is home to different animals, medicinal plants, fruits and raw materials that we use Wapichan" he told SciDev.Net Toshao Angelbert Johnny. The role of Toshao is to lead the community, ensure development and protect the land.
The area claimed is approximately 6.5 percent of the total land area. About 8,500 people, just over one percent of Guyana's population, live in these 20 communities, whose main activities are farming, hunting, fishing and gathering craft.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in Guyana there are 76 species at risk, especially for natural resource use, urbanization, agriculture and mining projects and energy production.
According to the proposed project, the 1.4 million acres include areas for sustainable development, preservation of sacred sites and species conservation. The ultimate goal is to protect the area from mining activities , route creation or development of hydropower. "They are using bulldozers and heavy machinery to destroy our forests," said Angelbert.
The claim on this territory, the Wapichan consider their original lands, comes from the 60's. With this new proposal communities expect the government to grant land titles to protect them, said James.
Damon Corrie, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations Pan Tribal Tribal, which includes a community Wapichan, told SciDev.Net that the organization "supports this historic effort of Wapichan" and calls on the government of Guyana "embrace and support this effort [to] allow it to become a model for equitable relations between States and indigenous peoples. "
"We are seeking the recognition of all this territory [as Wapichan], and especially to protect our forests for us, for future generations and for everyone," says Angelbert.