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Ecuador leading the way in working alongside Indigenous groups to protect sacred rainforest

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Communities in the Amazon, NGOs and local governments are teaming up in an unprecedented show of solidarity.

In an unprecedented show of solidarity, communities in the Amazon, NGOs and local governments are teaming up to protect Ecuador’s rainforest.

“Some previous local governments have not put much interest in people and nationalities,” says Daniel Dahua, President of the Andwa Nationality of Pastaza in Ecuador. “We as nationalities have needs in the territory [but] the willingness to act on our behalf among politicians did not exist.”

The new collaboration between Ecuador’s government and Indigenous groups seeks to change this.

A REDD+ project in Ecuador’s Pastaza region has paved the way for an even greater collaboration, named the Amazonian Platform for Forests, Climate and Human Wellbeing. It aims to combat climate change, protect critical ecosystems and threatened species, and improve the well-being of the people who live in the region.

For the first time the Provincial Government of Pastaza, the Minister of Environment and Water (MAATE) and NGOs are working together in a collaborative way within the province to carry out the REDD+ Plan, incorporating the vision of the Indigenous nationalities who live in Pastaza.

REDD+ is a framework created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP). It aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, promote the sustainable management of forests, and conserve forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

Ecuador’s groundbreaking conservation and implementation plan

Which groups are joining to protect Ecuador’s forests and why is it significant?

Indigenous peoples and local communities manage at least one quarter of the world’s lands and 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. They are integral in the fight against climate change, yet too often are overlooked by governments.

In the Pastaza region, seven Indigenous nationalities have joined forces with local provinces to protect the forest. This marks the first time in Ecuador that a provincial government and Indigenous communities have signed agreements to work together to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.

The provincial government and Indigenous communities are working together to reduce deforestation.

Charles Smith, Nature and Culture International

“This time we are participating and collaborating in the planning and we always coordinate in order to strengthen activities in the territory and satisfy our direct needs,” says Dahua.

“We want to see this collaboration between the government and nationalities so that we are taken into account.”

Nature and Culture International (NCI) – an international nonprofit that works with Latin American communities to conserve the local environment – is supporting the project.

Indigenous people are the rightful owners of most of the provincial territory, including the most critical areas to save,” says Bruno Paladines, Mosaic Coordinator at NCI.

“We believe Indigenous people are the ones who can best conserve these areas using their ancestral knowledge and their own vision of governance and land management.”