Opportunity to Work With Indigenous Ecuadorian Organizations to Protect the Amazon Rainforest

* This page was originally created by Joel Schmidt in 1994.
Information and contact addresses may be dated. Always contact organizations prior to visiting.

Below find a translated letter from Victor M. Vacacela, an Agricultural Engineer who lives in Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador. Mr. Vacacela is writing on behalf of a scientific indigenous organization (primarily representing Quichua and Shuiwiar communities) that is struggling to prevent destruction of the rainforest and the people's way of life. The organization, The Center for Investigation of Alternative Jungle Technologies "Spirit of the Water", does not oppose all development of the rainforest, but seeks to provide a scientific basis for limiting and channeling development into sustainable forms.

Financial and material resources to carry out the necessary scientific studies are in critically short supply. As Mr. Vacacela explains, the organization with which he is affiliated is primarily looking to establish cooperative agreements with scientific or educational institutions in other countries, so they may receive ongoing financial and technical assistance. Interested parties should contact Mr. Vacacela directly at the following address:

Ing. Agr. Victor M. Vacacela
Aptdo. 16-01-709
Puyo, Provincia Pastaza
Tel: 883-618
Fax: 883-021

Another indigenous scientific organization in Puyo has similar objectives and is seeking persons experienced in computer mapping (GIS) as well as other scientific fields. This organization, the Amazon Institute of Science and Technology "Amazanga", is undertaking a project to map the Quichua and Shuiwiar rainforest areas of Pastaza Province using the ARC/INFO computer program. Interested parties should contact the director of the Institute directly at the following address:

Leonardo Viteri, Director
Instituto Amazanga
24 de Mayo y Gral. Villamil
Casilla 16-01-688
Puyo, Provincia Pastaza
Tel: 593 (3) 883-019
Fax: 593 (3) 883-021

Text of Victor Vacacela's letter --

"The overexploitation of the renewable and nonrenewable resources is causing the accelerated obliteration of the tropical rain forest, setting off a chain of events leading to the irreversable loss of the Amazon's biodiversity. The indigenous nationalities are those who suffer most from the effects of environmental contamination and deterioration in the lands of the upper Amazon basin.

"Most of the hydrocarbon-related projects are concentrated in the territories belonging to indigenous peoples. This threatens the survival of these communities. The petroleum companies' lack of an environmental plan that is in tune with the realities of the Amazonian peoples' lives has caused a series of accidents in the exploratory phase as well as the production phase. This has contaminated the air, caused deterioration of rivers and lagoons, and destroyed the forests and jungle wildlife. Responding to this situation, the Quichua peoples of Pastaza province have begun organizing a series of activities aimed at defending the territories and ecosystems of the jungle communities.

"With the goals of adequately reestablishing, protecting, and preserving the ecosystem and implementing programs compatible with self-managed development by the communities, we have begun drafting alternative management and conservation plans for the tropical rain forest of Ecuatorian Amazon basin. Simultaneously, we have planned intensive programs of investigation and study of jungle flora and fauna.

"Among its concrete activities, the following investigative studies are planned: mammals, reptiles, fish, birds, ethnobiology, ethnobotany, and ethnomedicine.

"This knowledge will then be used to formulate alternative projects that meet the objectives of self-managed development. The Center for Investigation of Alternative Jungle Technologies "Spirit of the Water" operates within these objectives. [Spanish name: Centro de Investigación de Technolog!as Alternativas de Selva "SUMI" (Espíritu de Agua)] The Center is a scientific- technological community, located in the middle of the Amazon jungle in the Qu!chua community of "Yana Cocha" (Black Lagoon) in Pastaza Province. The Center consists of a team of indigenous technician investigators and Shamans, who in the past decade have been actively participating in formulating new proposals for managing the resources of the indigenous organizations of the Amazon region, particularly in Pastaza Province.

"The basic objectives of the Center are:

"The Center is in search of institutions or universities that can help them with resources, particularly materials, people and financial contributions. Given the economic situation in Ecuador and especially in the Amazon communities, it is quite difficult for the Center to systematically seek the help of specialized personnel and even more difficult to find economic assistance. We believe that it will be important that organizations interested in working with the Center understand our reality, analyze our situation and, with this in mind, establish an agreement or cooperative arrangement with us. To initiate such cooperation, we would like interested organizations to send us their concrete proposals (in Spanish), indicating their work plans and proposed forms of cooperation and exchange of scientific and technological knowledge."

Original Sender: Joel Schmidt (jschmidt@igc.apc.org)

Mailing List: NATIVE-L (native-l@gnosys.svle.ma.us)

Date: Wed, 12 Oct 1994 20:16:00 PDT

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