Land use planning with the Ashaninka in the Peruvian Amazon
January 26, 2023
Part of our work with the Asháninka communities in the Ene River basin has focused on improving control over their ancestral territories through the development of participatory land use plans.
These plans support their rights to access and use their forests by zoning their territory, defining different area uses (e.g. urban expansion, fisheries, tourism, biodiversity conservation, agriculture, national protected areas, etc.), the duration of the activities, the specific needs that each activity requires, the community and state entity responsible for each activity, the rules established on what is allowed, and the entity responsible for monitoring and the penalties for violations of these rules.
Alongside our partners Kemito Ene and CARE (Central Asháninka del Río Ene) – whose work as representatives of the Asháninka communities guarantees community organisation, good governance and territorial security – we have worked with the men and women of five communities to develop one single land use plan comprising approximately 130,000 ha of indigenous territory. Now for the first time in their history, community members, their leaders, and CARE representatives have agreed and officialised a land use plan to govern their collective territory!
An essential part of this work is making sure that plans are inclusive of the whole community, and no voices are marginalised. To ensure this throughout the process, the formation of working groups in each community was carried out, with participation of CARE representatives and community leaders, and participatory workshops were held in each community, along with individual interviews with community representatives, and meetings with the board of directors of the communities, among others. After the mapping and zoning of the communities was developed, an action plan for each defined area was prepared and presented to the communities to validate, so that their comments could be incorporated into the final land use plans. For example, in one of the communities most of the families live in voluntary isolation and initial contact, so together with CARE, community authorities, and indigenous self-defence committees, a differentiated protocol was implemented that respects the lives of these families.
The presence of CARE throughout these processes has made the communities feel more supported by their authorities, and has generated a more dynamic process of participation, including more women and youth from the communities. And the active participation of the oldest members of the communities has also made it possible to rescue the historical memory of the geography and limits of the communities, invaluable knowledge that strengthens the efficacy of these plans.
In all communities, the information gathered by CARE staff has been contrasted with the analysis of historical satellite images of the territory, official information from the National Geographic Institute, information from SERFOR's National Forestry Programme, and information that the communities themselves have provided, for example with historical geographic records of their members' plots of land that have been recovered.
As the implementation phase of these plans begins, RFUK will continue to support the communities and CARE, in making their plans an efficient instrument to improve their livelihoods.
This project is supported by the Good Energies Foundation.