FAMILY & VILLAGE
Conserving nature, especially in the Amazon area, is more than the mere conservation of flora and fauna. Conserving nature means preserving space in which to live. This naturally includes the people that live there who, like all of us, are a part of nature.
The indigenous peoples of Ecuador were fortunate in that they were granted possession of large parts of their traditional settlement areas. In many other Latin American countries, the situation regarding land titles for the local indigenous peoples is much worse, even disastrous.
But even though the territories of the natives in the Amazon in Ecuador are secured by law, in reality there is still a lot of exploitation by international and national industries. And often it is even the natives themselves who, deprived of their traditional lifestyle, destroy their last natural resources by connecting to roads and infrastructure, thereby deteriorating their situation.
This ill-fated development must be stopped by providing information, education and the financial means to conduct activities that help protect the forest natives and their living space. That way, we help preserve the last rainforests in the world.
The living space of the forest natives means life for us all!
© Barbara Dombrowski
© Markus Heinsdorff
© Pete Oxford
© Pete Oxford
© Pete Oxford
© Dieter Menzel
© Pete Oxford
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Our activities in detail
“Because mankind is to blame for the destruction of nature, the starting point for protecting the environment must come from mankind.” Every member of the indigenous family is taught the importance of a healthy environment – even in the middle of the primeval forest. AMAZONICA integrates this orientation by including the subject of ecological sanitation into the curriculum of primary school, cultural education and community development. Ecological standards of operation, especially in agriculture, and the application of renewable energies help to raise a stronger awareness for environmental issues.
As the stock of wildlife and other natural food resources is rapidly decreasing, the forest natives feel the need for change – without knowing what to change and where to start.
AMAZONICA supports the tribes in conducting appropriate measures. The experienced hunters, for example, are currently working on a hunting schedule to identify endangered species and establish closed hunting seasons. In addition, first-grade students are sent on trash hunts: equipped with spears and baskets, they clear the village, the river basin and the walking paths of any waste.
We would rather say “cooperational management” because every one of us is a part of the environment and we cannot be removed from it. Environmental management is a subject taught at Ecuadorian universities. AMAZONICA finances scholarships for young Achuar and Shuar. When they return from college, they know how to apply new ecological standards to their villages and teach their families about it. The young graduates often get well-paid jobs at the AMAZONICA Academy or in the tourism industry.
Also, the first group of tour guides has been trained to accompany visitors into the rainforest and to show them the natural wonders, special plants and animals of the tropical rainforest as well as help scientists with their work.
All these jobs only have a future if nature remains intact. In order to protect their own interests, every educated forest native becomes an environmental activist.
Reforestation in the middle of the forest? Yes! Reforestation helps to repair earlier damage (see PROJECTS). Unfortunately, it is a fact that clear-cutting has occurred and still does occur due to oil and timber production, road construction, and poorly managed projects by the government and the missions and the mismanagement of the natives themselves.
The AMAZONICA projects restock the cleared areas and secondary forests with valuable woods. To provide the communities with the necessary everyday resources, we cultivate lumber and agricultural crops on the former barren cattle fields. That way, the communities do not have to touch the long-grown forest.
In principle, the idea of creating nature reserves or national parks from areas worth protecting is good. But from experience, we know that it will only work as long as everyone obeys the rules. The areas must be monitored constantly. It will not help if billionaires buy large parts of the Amazon as long as they cannot protect their natural treasures. And they just cannot do so! Apart from having to fight the government and the local economy of the affected countries, the vast range of unknown and impassable forest cannot be protected simply by a troop of hired rangers.
The only possible forest protectors are the forest natives living in the area. They are the natural protectors of their forest based on their own interests and on our interests today and those of future generations tomorrow. Under the current conditions, however, these people must also be trained for this task. For AMAZONICA, this training is an obvious obligation.
In order to create a functioning nature reserve in the Amazon region, it is necessary to combine various players into one group: those institutions that declare a region a nature reserve and supervise it frequently, the forest natives that protect it from within and an educated world public as a contact group for the natives trying to conserve the rainforest for us and themselves.
The Achuar of the Pastaza province are willing to convert their most valuable, intact areas of primeval forest into nature reserves, to stop hunting there and to protect them from unauthorized access. AMAZONICA supports their efforts.