Having obtained territorial rights throughout the North west Amazon over 25 million hectares of their ancestral lands, indigenous people are now fully governing large areas of tropical forest and acting as its stewards – as they have done for thousands of years before their land was encroached. More than 23,000 indigenous people, organized into Associations of Traditional Indigenous Authorities, have now regained the ability to manage their territory and now stand on equal footing with governmental entities. They manage over US$ 4,000,000 of government funding per year in educational and health projects and processes.
These initiatives have been constructed from the ground up by the indigenous communities with Gaia Amazonas support, and are now fully administered through new governance structures and an innovative blend of Western standards and indigenous beliefs and practices, such as shamanic medicine and indigenous language teaching at schools. Over 100 community schools in the region have established inter-cultural curricula that draw on indigenous traditional knowledge and employ trained indigenous teachers.
Because of its unique holistic and bottom-up approach that is based on empowering the indigenous population, Gaia Amazonas is among the most cost-effective actors in the protection of the Amazon rainforest. Our efforts in capacity building among indigenous communities in matters of environmental preservation, health and education have set the basis for longstanding protection and local governance of the Amazon rainforest and the tackling of outside threats.
Most importantly, these efforts have contributed to the recovery of threatened indigenous cultures. The regained cultural strength is at the core of the indigenous system of forest management that has proven more successful and sustainable than any other out side model.