This blog is the eighth post in Human Nature’s “Gender + Conservation” blog series.
Deep in the Amazonian rainforest of southern Colombia, the thunderous Rio Caquetá winds through the densely forested flatlands before entering nearby Brazil as the Rio Japurá. Across this remote region, a series of indigenous reserves, national parks and forest reserves conserve and protect some 2.5 million hectares (almost 6.2 million acres) of unparalleled wildlife, including the black caiman and the black-headed uakari. This area is also home to several small indigenous and campesino (peasant) communities dotted along the mighty Caquetá.
Over the last 100 years, these communities have witnessed a boom and bust economy based on unsustainable extraction of rubber, cocaine, cedar and gold. Weak governance and a growing demand for fish for both local consumption and national markets have also led to an uncontrolled extraction of fisheries resources in these rivers and nearby lakes.
For more than a decade, CI Colombia has worked with these communities to identify and address the factors affecting the sustainable use of natural resources in their territories. In my 18 years of working in the Amazon, I’ve traveled many miles by river and small creek, had numerous encounters with magnificent wild animals, eaten countless meals with community members and had as many long and passionate conversations with them. These discussions have allowed me to see that we share many common views and aspirations about the future of these forests and the people who live here. Continue reading