The South Central People’s Development Association (SCPDA), based in Guyana, have just released their latest newsletter containing information on what the organisation has been working on, and what their plans are for the future.
After years of painstaking work and multiple community consultations, the indigenous Wapichan people of southern Guyana have set out agreements and proposals for caring for their territory in a ground-breaking plan titled Baokopa’o wa di’itinpan wadauniinao ati’o nii (Thinking together for those coming behind us).
The following article, by Maurizio Farhan-Ferrari, Coordinator of the FPP's Environmental Governance Programme, has just been published on the Landscapes Blog for People, Food and Nature:
Balancing human beings’ need for decent livelihoods against the imperative of securing our environment is, arguably, the biggest challenge facing our planet. This struggle between ‘development’ and ‘conservation’ is being played out in global policy negotiations, with the decisions of so-called policy-makers being imposed on the ground. But not everything is or should be ‘top down’. Enduring solutions also spring from the grassroots, from the ‘bottom up’.
- Completion of a community digital map of traditional use and occupation of Wapichan wiizi (territory) by Wapichan mappers and a GIS specialist.
- Community map is based on thousands of waypoints geo-referenced with satellite imagery.
- The land use map has been finalised through multiple validation meetings in Wapichan communities as well as consultations with the Makushi and Wai Wai communities to the North and South of Wapichan territory.
- Over 80 community consultations and workshops have been carried out to compile the innovative territorial plan titled Thinking Together for those Coming Behind Us.
- The land use plan includes proposals to establish a Wapichan Conserved Forest and contains dozens of inter-community agreements on actions to secure land rights, promote sustainable use of resources and enable self-determined community development.
- Participants at the Wapichan map and plan launch event in Georgetown, Guyana, praised the work as a potential model for other indigenous peoples in Guyana, and throughout the world.
Georgetown, 7 February: The indigenous Wapichan people of Guyana, South America, will make public today a locally-made digital map of their traditional territory alongside a ground-breaking community proposal to care for 1.4 million ha of pristine rainforest for the benefit of their communities and the world. The territory’s rich variety of rainforests, mountains, wetlands, savannah grasslands and tropical woodlands are the homeland of 20 communities, who make a living from small-scale farming, hunting, fishing and gathering, which they have practised over the whole area for generations. The same area, located in the South Rupununi District, south-west Guyana, has an outstanding abundance of wildlife, including endangered species such as giant river otters, jaguars, and rare bush dogs as well as endemic species of fish and birds, like the Rio Branco Antbird.
The grassroots proposal comes at a crucial time because the entire Wapichan territory in Guyana, like many other parts of the Amazon basin and Guiana Shield, is threatened by mega road and dam projects as well as external plans for logging, mining and agribusiness development. In common with many indigenous peoples across Guyana and South America, the communities are vulnerable to land grabs and marginalisation because they lack secure legal title over much of their traditional lands.