A key part of the project’s methodology has centred on the mapping of community space and territory. This involved capacity development activities using GPS and mapping apps on mobile phones as well as collective mapping exercises to document both community resources and threats.
Protecting Indigenous Territory
The project’s work emphasised the increased threats that faced Indigenous communities during the COVID-19 pandemic when the withdrawal of the Peruvian state and its agencies left them vulnerable to incursions on their land.
The most significant case was for the Amawaca community of Alto Esperanza which is still considered to be ‘PIACI’ (Indigenous Peoples in Isolation and Initial Contact). Our team showed how this official status was working against the community’s desire to have their land officially titled and therefore protect their lands from competing claims.
Working together with FIARIM (the Indigenous Federation of the Upper Inuya and Mapuya) and the Ministries of Culture and Agricultural Development as well as the NGO Upper Amazon Conservancy, our research team helped produce the evidence and documents to make an official application for territorial recognition from the Peruvian government. The team also supported the people of Alto Esperanza through the necessary bureaucratic processes. A first concrete outcome was the signing of an official agreement of cooperation between the Regional Director of the government’s Agricultural Office, Ing. Bella Nair Salas Pérez and the President of FIARIM, Edgar Monsin, on the 7th June 2021.
On 18th September 2022 the Ministry of Culture announced that Alto Esperanza’s claim was officially accepted, supported by the Ministry of Agricultural Development and the Vice-minister of Interculturality, Rocilda Nunta. This marks the first time such a group still in the official stage of ‘Initial Contact’ has achieved this status and has thus set an important precedent for other groups, particularly those still living in isolation in the surrounding area.
There are still more steps to take before the territorial claim is completely ratified and the project team and our partners will continue to support the community of Alto Esperanza through this process. The key process of officially demarcating the physical territory was conducted in May 2023.
Photos from the titling fieldwork expedition undertaken by the Upper Amazon Conservancy with government representatives.