Protecting the Peruvian Amazon – the Rights Way!
The indigenous community Nuevo Lamas de Shapaja are fighting to get their traditional lands titled in the forested mountains of San Martin – if they achieve their goal, this could contribute to transforming the way in which forests are conserved in the Peruvian Amazon.
The Kichwa community has initiated a court battle to call into question significant barriers to the full recognition of Indigenous Peoples' territorial rights in Peru, including an exclusionary model of conservation which seeks to separate indigenous communities from the territories they have protected for generations and outdated laws failing to empower the group to protect the Amazon for Indigenous Peoples.
"I've walked through these lands since I was a child. We're in this struggle to be able to live well, as we did before," says Miguel Ishuiza, elder and leader of Nuevo Lamas. Since the creation of the Regional Conservation Area – Cordillera Escalera on their ancestral lands without their consent, Nuevo Lamas, like other affected Kichwa communities, have suffered restrictions of their rights to access and use the forests they inherited from those who came before. This is despite the Kichwa people's fundamental contribution to protecting the forests of San Martin and the caring relationships which they maintain with their territory into the present. "I grew up in this territory and I want to carry on cultivating my plantain, maize and beans without facing prohibitions from the ACR Cordillera Escalera and the Regional Government of San Martin," says Peregrina Ishuiza Sangama, grandmother and community elder.
Nuevo Lamas' defence of their territory underscores that conservation actors must truly recognise Indigenous Peoples' enormous contribution to the protection of Peru's natural landscapes, and ally with them to oppose the true enemies of conservation: the unlimited expansion of concessions for oil and gas, mining, logging and industrial agriculture.