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Sustainability Without Borders

Sustainability Without Borders

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Published by John Schertow

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: John Schertow on Sep 19, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Original Posting:http://pagina20.uol.com.br/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=21557&Itemid=37  (Translation by M.A.Kidd - Links have been inserted into the original article for background on IIRSA, Yoreka Ãtameand photographs of this Ashananika school project)
Sustainability without Borders
By *Malu OchoaApril 24, 2011Regional Integration to protect the Indigenous Peoples and to Conserve Biodiversity on the Frontier of Acre/Brazil-Ucayali/PeruThe border region of Acre (Brazil) and Ucayali (Peru) is one of the areas formed by Indigenous Lands (TerrasIndigenas), Units of Conservation, Native Communities and Reserve Lands (Terras Reservadas), where indigenousand traditional populations live.
In Acre the Indigenous Lands and Units of Conservation form a large mosaic with approximately 4,280,197hectares or 30% of the length of the state. It is here that, in recent years, innovative social and socio-environmental sustainability have been developed by indigenous peoples, communities of the extractive reserves,riparian (traditional river peoples) and their representative organizations. These actors have been organized forrecognition and monitoring of their collective territories and for sustainable use and conservation of their forests.But on both sides of the border there are threats to the integrity of these territories and to the ways of life of theindigenous peoples and traditional populations, including the peoples in voluntary isolation. These threats that arebeing leveraged by major infrastructure projects set the agenda of governments of the two countries that seekeconomic development and regional integration, such as roads and prospecting for oil and gas drilling, and illicitand illegal activities, such as clandestine exploitation of timber, predatory extraction of minerals and drugtrafficking.In Peru, as of 2000, the new Forest Law [Lei Florestal] and Wildlife [Fauna Silvestre] (Law 2738) permitted thecreation of the "Bosques de produccion permanent", domain areas of the State dedicated exclusively to forestmanagement. Within these, are defined Units of Exploitation, large areas of forest for the removal of wood, bycontract bidding, were delivered to businesses and legal entities/persons in the form of 40 year concessions.According to the Instituto Del Bien Comum - IBC, there are concessions that amount to 50,000 hectares. It sohappens however, that this legality contributes largely to the illegal logging in the region, becoming a true chaosfor the indigenous populations.The great problem with this "shredding/retailing" of the Peruvian Amazon in the form of forest concessions wasgenerated by the common practice of governments of the Amazon countries, to create policies for the region withpurely economic goals. The intention is to remove the non-renewable natural resources and to construct largescale infrastructure projects(IIRSA), without considering the negative impacts and, worse, without knowing the local demands and/or realities. In the Peruvian case, without the "knowledge" of the existence of nativecommunities and of populations of isolated indigenous peoples.It is out of the socio-environmental impacts that are already occurring, with the start of some of the constructionand fruition of their intent, that serious conflicts begin to take shape in the Acre/Ucayali border strip. One of the
most shocking is when these invasions cross the border in this frontier region, forging into Brazilian territory, morespecifically in the official Terra Indigena Kampa (Indigenous Territory of Kampa) of the Amônea River and the Serrado Divisor National Park, and occasions the illegal extraction of timber.Equally or even more shocking than the illegal extraction of timber is the legalized predatory extraction, and this,with forest certification. This applies to the case of the logging company Forestal Venao S.R.L. created in 1996 to work in the Ucayali region. It began its work with five indigenous communities: Sawawo Hito 40, Nueva Sahuayo,Santa Rosa, Nueva Victoria and El Dorado, supported the titling of these territories in exchange for the removal of timber and used the labor available in the community.Sawawo Hito 40 was the first [village] to work in the logging, in 2005, initiating the process of certification by theSmartWood / Rainforest Alliance, and in less than two years, the community of Sawawo found itself in seriousdifficulty. One example of how companies with interests that are exclusively economic assume the role of thePeruvian State that facilitates the procedures without monitoring the impacts caused in the region.
Articulation and exchange: political strategies of the indigenous peoples and traditional populations
 The Comiso Pró-Índio do Acre (Pro-Indian Commission of Acre), by means of its most recent program of PublicPolicies and Regional Articulation, has been working, in recent years, for the strengthening of the policies of protection for the isolated indigenous peoples, for indigenous peoples and movements for the protection andconservation of biodiversity of the Acre-Ucayali border and for their qualified participation in public spaces. Also,the strengthening of the network of articulation between the organizations of indigenous and traditional peoplesfor exchange of information and, with this, for subsidiary strategies and actions that in conjunction influence inpublic policy, are the focuses of this work.We organize, produce and make public, documents with information and data about the border between Braziland Peru that in addition to visibility, show the area of institutional activity. The gatherings and meetings that takeare held with representatives of social movements in Brazil and Peru, by means of the Trans-Border WorkingGroup (GTT- Grupo de Trabalho Transfronteiriço), since 2005, have contributed to the exchange and update of information about public policies, negotiations on the Peruvian and Brazilian government infrastructure projectsand about legal and illegal economic activities taking place in the border region. Also, we have providedinformation from the reports from local communities about the negative impacts of these processes.Because of my participation in the Seminar on Research Experiences, Records and Cultural Management by theIndigenous and Traditional Community of Alto Juruá, held in the Yorenka Ãtame Center in the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo, on March 29 and 31, I heard important project experiences, records and research on theknowledge that the populations of Juruá have in relation to the use and management of natural resources.Experiences and knowledge that, at the same time, guarantee their survival and provide important environmentalservices to humanity.The Seminar, which reunited rubber tappers and indigenous peoples, was, like so many other meetings, animportant and efficient exchange of ideas and dreams: establishment of partnerships for collective consideration,reaffirmation of the importance of the relationship with the environment by those who live in the forest, of theirspiritual and economic way of life, and ongoing work that enhances the forest with a view toward sustenance andpermanence for future generations.In this meeting, once again meeting my friend Edwin Chota, Ashaninka leader of the Saweto community of AltoTamaya, a tributary of the Ucayali River, able always to visit the Apiwtxa community, which according to him is a
way to achieve internal strength. Who from the Peruvian side of the border, has been in my view, a symbol of resistance against an entire economic policy of timber extraction, in solitary form, has been gradually expanding itsnetwork of allies for the titling of their land.There have also been conversations with Isaac and Benk Piyanko, Ashaninka leaders who play an important role inthe joint defense of a social and environmental policy for the region. The Ashaninka of the Amônea, since 2004,have been utilizing various strategies to protect their territory. It was they who, experiencing the direct impactsfrom invasions by loggers in various parts of their Land, called the world's attention to the border problems.In a conversation we had during the Seminar Edwin, Isaac and Benk recounted their views for me on the events onthe Acre and Ucayali border. I am pleased to present some of these.Edwin Chota:The community of Saweto represents a history we have been studying since 2002, when we began to organizeagainst the timber exploitation. In that year, when we organized in light of the Forestry Law (Lei Florestal), whichgranted concessions in nearly the entire Amazon forest of Peru, we initiated coordination at the regional level inthe province of Coronel Portillo. Prior to this, there was no knowledge that there were Ashaninka in the Tamayaregion, we were dismayed when we filed application for recognition, our very existence being in doubt.After many questions from the police about who I am, where I came from, what I do, we came to understand that,behind this, politically, we were coming face-to-face with an activity of the State. Only after great insistence did wehave the first meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture. Since then, we initiated thearticulation/coordination and we started to work with the government. At this point we had the recognition andbegan to denounce the illegal and indiscriminate splintering of timber stands in our region. It was a total disaster,there was plundering of cedar and mahogany.We began to denounce this with ever more people arriving, the authorities did not believe them. Only after manydenunciations, the Defensoria del Pueblo (Office of the Public Defender), installed its office in the city of Pucallpa.It was then that we saw a light. Although the National Institute of Natural Resources (INRENA) say that they couldnot do anything because the whole region had been granted concessions, the Public Defender spoke of our right toland. But it was only in 2005 that the resolution came to recognize the Alto Tamaya. With regard to the title, wehad no further response. Saweto has been recognized since 2003, but we are among the 180 communities in theAmazon that still require [land] titles.We initiated this struggle with 36 families and, at present, we are 20 families enduring the entire negative force of the timber interests against us. Many communities have been illuded and convinced to leave their homes to workfor them. Unfortunately, a bar of soap, a cartridge and salt and deceive the families and, as there are noalternatives, people accept the job, take their children and leave their homes. These families are found scatteredthroughout the Tamaya river basin.Their community organizations are very fragile; the majority of leaders are in favor of the loggers. It is unfortunate but we are notable to prevent it without presenting another alternative.Therefore we are seeking support, to capacitate our raising theawareness of our people and to continue to confront theindiscriminate removal of timber in our region.

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