“We make our living from our mother forest. She provides us with all the things we need…she is like our storehouse. And the trees give us clean air to breathe. The bush contains the sacred areas, old settlement sites, ceremonial grounds and former farming grounds of our fore parents. Those places are special to us”
This project aims to aid the Wapichan people to legally secure and protect their ancestral territory and maintain their traditional forest. The project, in partnership with Forest Peoples Project, supports the community to maintain traditional forest knowledge in order to sustain their traditional way of life whilst simultaneously maintaining healthy forest ecosystems, contributing to climate change mitigation and promote sustainable livelihoods.
Size of Wales’ support will specifically go toward providing legal advice and training to enable effective engagement in Wapichan’s formal land talks with the Guyanese government. A team led by the forest peoples project will aid the Wapichan people to collect further evidence of traditional occupation and use of forest lands to bolster formal land talks with the government of Guyana regarding the Wapichan territorial claim.
Money raised through Size of Wales will also establish two field monitoring stations in remote forest areas to strengthen community forest monitoring and data collection techniques. Size of Wales funds will also establish “bush schools” at the forest field stations to provide a space in the forest for elders and holders of traditional knowledge to share their knowledge with the younger generation. The project will also support schools to share traditional knowledge with younger generations.
As one community member, Leo Gomes, said “we make our living from our mother forest. She provides us with all the things we need ….it is like our storehouse. And the trees give us clean air to breathe from their green leaves. The bush contains the sacred areas, old settlement sites, ceremonial grounds, balata trails and former farming grounds of our fore parents. Those places are special to us.
• Gold mining
• Infrastructure developments such as roads
• Governmnet of Guyana agreed in 2015 to enter formal talks with the Wapichan people
• 17 communities have developed a management plan and map
• Built a drone to monitor their forest lands
• Set up forest monitoring using smart phones