Ecotribal has been working with Ashaninka villages in the Ene River region since 2004 when illegal loggers arrived in the region in search of mahogany trees. In response, Ecotribal was invited to help identify sustainable products which could provide ongoing income streams. During initial years, the focus was on eco-cultural tourism, women’s crafts (e.g. seed jewelry and woven cotton bags and clothing), coffee sales and agro-forestry tree planting in abandoned gardens.
In 2008, however, when legal logging companies began to offer the community of Cutivireni significant sums for access to the most valuable trees in their forest, the Ashaninka here asked Ecotribal for greater assistance. With the help of the UK NGO Cool Earth Action, Ecotribal was able to respond fast by establishing an avoided deforestation project with Cutivireni. This project is now in its fifth year of protecting the rainforest against commercial exploitation of its timber. In 2010, two neighbouring indigenous communities – Camantavishi and Parijaro – were invited by Cutivireni to join an expanded Avoided Deforestation Project. The basic concept is to provide an annual community income for the environmental service of conserving rather than selling their forest resources.
To date, the project has secured the protection of 54,000 hectares of rainforest with 3 Ashaninka communities, implemented a participatory capacity building plan and advised on investing the income both for the benefit of the wider community and also into long term productive initiatives operating on a sustainable basis.
The capacity building programme design was based on participatory situational analysis to determine the needs and skill requirements of the communities. Workshop topics addressed include: administration, book keeping, climate change, solid waste management, sustainable agro-forestry, basic motor mechanics.
To optimize transparency in the planned use and accounting of the community incomes generated by the project, a community association was established in Cutivireni (Tsimi- the Ashaninka Bioclimatic Association) which is comprised of delegates from all of the scattered, often remote, villages which together form the community. This association continues the financial and strategic management of the project, as well as providing a framework for information flows and decision-making.
Effects of Cool Earth protection
These maps show both the damage caused by logging in one community and the conservation of vegetation associated with a community that has avoided deforestation.
These maps were created using remote sensing techniques relying on data sourced from satellites, in this instance the Landsat 5 satellite. Each image captures reflectance values of a 30m2 pixel of land, these values can be compared and then classified to produce land cover classification maps.
Satellite images were downloaded from 2001 and 2011 so the changes to different cool earth project sites and areas outside of protected boundaries can be compared over the last decade.