ACT UPDATE September 29th, 2006
As the Amazon Conservation Team’s 10th anniversary year begins to draw to a close, our work has only increased in scope and magnitude as we prepare ourselves for another 10 years of ground breaking work.
With the ongoing support from friends like you, we are poised to continue our unique and holistic approach to conservation in conjunction with our indigenous colleagues, who form the basis of our conservation strategy in the Amazon Basin.
Below are some of our most notable highlights over the summer months of 2006. The range and diversity of our work is a testament to our ability to coherently respond to the complexities and challenges facing indigenous communities and the natural treasures of Amazon. Please consider a gift to support our work – because of the Amazon Conservation Team’s structure and continued fiscal responsibility we have earned the reputation of being one of the most efficient and effective organizations around! [Click Here to see our profile on Charity Navigator]
Thank you for your continued support, your contributions continue to play an essential role in our success.
Dr. Mark Plotkin, Ph.D
- New Ethnographic Map initiative launched in western Brazil
- Park Guard Training in Macapá, Brazil for Government Institutions
- South Suriname Indians establish the indigenous conservation foundation TALAWA
- Colombian traditional health brigades provide medical treatment to remote communities
- Construction of dormitory facilities for the Indigenous Women Healers of the Colombian Amazon
- Key administrative support provided to ASATRIZY
- 10th Anniversary Amazon Adventure
New Ethnographic Map initiative launched in western Brazil
In early August, at the request of Suruí traditional authorities, a team from the Amazon Conservation Team in Brazil traveled to Rondônia, Brazil’s westernmost state, to help address the social and environmental threats facing Suruí communities, territory, and natural resources. The meetings resulted in an agreement to create the first ethnographic map for the Suruí indigenous communities; the map is scheduled for completion in March 2007. The Suruí alone comprise approximately 14 villages, with a traditional territory of 612,239 acres (247,870 hectares). Rondônia is one of the most endangered areas of Brazil as a result of illegal logging and infrastructure projects. As a result, the most intact tracts of forest are located on indigenous territory. Since the 1980s, Rondônia has seen increasing interest in developing its natural resources—all too often in the form of poorly planned development schemes that rarely include or benefit the indigenous communities. High quality, professional ethnographic maps have been one of the Amazon Conservation Team’s most potent weapons in the race to protect the irreplaceable Amazon rainforest and to empower local communities to effectively manage their territory and resources.
Park Guard Training in Macapá for Government Institutions
From August 17-31, 2006, the Amazon Conservation Team, in cooperation with the International Ranger Federation (IRF), held the first-ever Park Guard training course designed for personnel from state and non-governmental institutions operating in the environmental sector or in protected areas in Brazil’s northeastern state of Amapá. The 120-hour, two-week certification course involved participants from many sectors and covered topics that included environmental education, monitoring and research, combating and preventing forest fires, and indigenous land rights. The course was fully accredited and approved by the IRF and benefited from the involvement of its vice president Juan Carlos Gambarotta, who has taught similar classes in Africa, Europe, Oceania, and Central America. A total of 29 participants were certified as Park Guard field assistants through this course and will greatly assist in the protection of protected areas in the state of Amapá.
55% of the land in Amapá is categorized as some form of protected area, including biological reserves, national parks and indigenous lands. However, many organizations and institutions lack sufficient resources to adequately train personnel to manage protected areas. Prospective park guard assistants received training from several institutions including the Brazilian environmental protection agency (IBAMA), the national fire brigade, the Amapá state water quality agency (CAESA), the Federal University of Amapá (UNIFAP), the electric company of northern Brazil (Eletronorte), and the Institute for Scientific and Technological Research of the State of Amapá (IEPA).
Managing protected areas is a constant challenge as they are continuously imperiled by illegal mining and logging activities; poaching; and unregulated tourism ventures. The Amazon Conservation Team is proud to collaborate with interested institutions to perpetuate conservation best practices that better address the threats to Brazil’s natural treasures and its indigenous peoples.
South Suriname Indians establish the indigenous conservation foundation TALAWA (Tareno ma Wajanaton-aKoronmato)
On June 3-4, 2006, indigenous communities from south Suriname and northern Brazil (Trios/Tiriyós and Wayanas/Apalai) will gather in the Surinamese village of Kwamalasamutu to identify and discuss the common problems of protection in the border area. A few days later, on June 6-7, NGOs, government officials, and other indigenous community representatives will convene in Paramaribo to establish trans-border strategies for identifying, communicating and formulating plans for environmental protection.
In addition to representatives from ACT’s tribal partners, the list of participating organizations includes: the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Suriname (OIS); the Organization of American States; the French Embassy; the Surinamese Ministries of Spatial Planning, Land and Forest Management, Labor, Technological Development and Environment, Justice and Police, and Defense; the US Peace Corps; the National Institute for the Environment and Development in Suriname (NIMOS); the World Wildlife Fund; and Conservation International. Confirmed represented Brazilian institutions include Brazil’s Institute for Natural Resources and the Environment (IBAMA); the Brazilian Park Rangers (BPMA); the Secretaria Estadual do Meio Ambiente (SEMA); and the Federal University of Amapá. The Amazonian Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) will also be represented.
ACT has provided the energy to realize this event by organizing all the necessary stakeholders, thereby creating a link between institutions and indigenous communities willing to protect the border area in order to present alternative strategies for its consequent protection and preservation.
The meetings represent a milestone for environmental protection in this region since it marks the first time that indigenous, NGO, and government stakeholders from both Suriname and Brazil have met to address environmental concerns across their shared border. Environmental problems frequently involve multiple countries in both their cause and potential solution; however, transnational solutions can be difficult to realize because conflicting political interests often hamper collaboration. These meetings will provide stepping stones toward the development of potentially innovative strategies for environmental protection and conservation by involving local, regional, and national actors. Of particular importance is the inclusion of indigenous community interests in these consultation processes, since historically these have been some of the communities most strongly affected by the causes and effects of environmental degradation resulting from development projects. The combined actions of indigenous groups and authorities can ensure improved protection in trans-border areas, as called for by the latest meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
Colombian traditional health brigades provide medical treatment to remote communities
In June and July, members of UMIYAC (the Union of Traditional Healers of the Colombian Amazon), conducted several large health brigades to administer medical care to outlying communities with little to no access to health care. In total more than 380 people received treatment for various ailments. The “health brigades” are initiatives designed by the indigenous elders of southwest Colombia who have seen the damage to their communities caused by an absence of social services, a scarcity of authentic shamans who can heal them with uncompensated traditional medicinal treatment, and a dependence on western medicine. Traveling groups of traditional healers and apprentices of UMIYAC travel monthly to remote communities of the Colombian Amazon lacking any form of health service, and typically spend several days at each site to provide basic traditional healthcare. Since January of 2006 over 350 families from the Yunguillos and Inga Kamtzá communities have been treated by the brigades.
Construction of Dormitory Facilities for the Indigenous Women Healers of the Colombian Amazon
The Amazon Conservation Team’s Northwest Amazon program is proud to announce the completion of an addition to the Women’s Center constructed by ACT in the Colombian department of Putumayo in 2004. The Center is currently used by indigenous women healers from 5 communities as a venue for holding community meetings, training seminars, and cultural events designed and organized by women healers. This is of particular importance, as members of several outlying communities must travel many hours by foot in order to reach events held at the center.
Two new dormitories, which have a capacity for 150 people, now allow community organizers to conduct multi-day events, which encourage closer collaboration between other women healers and leaders from neighboring communities. The initial structure was built at the request of the local women organizers in response to the lack of support given to activities oriented to and designed by women from the surrounding indigenous communities. Since its construction, the Women’s Center has hosted 14 cultural programs including multi-tribe gatherings of female indigenous leaders and indigenous legislation, life plan and agroforestry workshops. The new wing gives organizers added flexibility for their future programming.
Key administrative support provided to ASATRIZY
With support from the Spanish NGO EcoDesarrollo, ACT was able to provide the headquarters of the ASATRIZY indigenous association of the Colombian Eastern Tukano peoples with a solar generator, a printer-scanner, and a digital camera to increase its ability to conduct administrative tasks generated by their community initiatives. Additionally, the association’s president and treasurer were trained in the basic management of financial resources, and a bank account for the exclusive management of project resources was opened. In addition, with ACT support, the payés (shamans) of the Eastern Tukano peoples, through their union Kumuá Yoamará, held health brigades in two of the seven primary communities that comprise ASATRIZY.
10th Anniversary Amazon Adventure
In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, the Amazon Conservation Team, accompanied by some of our closest indigenous colleagues, guided a group of special friends into the Brazilian Amazon. During this weeklong adventure, the group was able to experience first-hand ACT’s unique approach to conserving this irreplaceable forest while protecting the rights and livelihoods of indigenous communities. ACT always strives to convey the message of interconnectedness that is fundamental to our strategy — nothing illuminates the mysteries of the Amazon more than having its traditional caretakers release its magic before your eyes. Special thanks go to our indigenous colleagues from Colombia, Suriname and Brazil and, of course, to our intrepid Amazon Adventurers!