Wapichan people launch website to expose growing threats to their forest

  • Anna Harris
  • 19 Sep 2017
  •   Comments Off on Wapichan people launch website to expose growing threats to their forest

Cymraeg isod.

Today, the Wapichan people have launched their own website in bid to expose rights violations and threats to their communities and ancestral lands from mining and illegal resource use.

Size of Wales have partnered with Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), an international NGO who empower indigenous communities to legally secure land tenure, such as the Wapichan of Guyana. The Wapichan have been campaigning to protect and secure their ancestral lands with the solidarity of Size of Wales, the people of Wales and allies such as FPP.

The Wapichan have been gathering data using a grassroots land use monitoring arrangement that involves community monitoring teams, the use of smartphone technology, drones, and community digital maps. This data has been collated and presented on their newly launched website which can be found here: http://wapichanao.communitylands.org/.

The website is owned and managed entirely by the Wapichan villages and will be used to help them in their formal land talks with the Guyanese government that began back in 2016 and are ongoing.

This innovative use of monitoring technologies has helped the Wapichan understand the damage done to their ancestral lands. Ron James, a community mapper involved in the monitoring project explains “By mapping the mining pollution sources we now understand how it affects wider river systems and water supplies that are essential to our villages for fishing, bathing and drinking. The headwaters of the Kwitaro, Kuyuwini and Takatu Rivers are under serious threat. We are bringing this monitoring information to the attention of the environmental and mining authorities, yet the problem continues unabated.”

   

As well as helping the Wapichan understand, track and present the damaging effects of illegal resource use on their territory, it is hoped the website will help spread awareness about the violations to a national and international audience. Paulinus Albert, Chairperson of the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC), the legal representative body of 21 villages and communities in Wapichan territory says “Our territory is under pressure from rampant mining and plans for agribusiness and road developments. Uncontrolled mining expansion on our lands is resulting in deforestation, desecration of sacred sites and irreparable damage to our creeks, rivers and water sources. The situation is getting worse and threats are increasing. This is why we have decided to watch over our lands and forests, and to get organised to collect and publish information to tell the world what is going on.”

    

Since 2015, monitoring site visits have captured the following detrimental impact:
· Encroachment on customary land and forest by illegal gold miners
· Deforestation and destruction of waters sources, creeks and wetlands, including a total wipe out of Toucan and Panche Creeks, and severe damage to Locust Creek
· Pollution of water courses with mercury and tailings sediment
· Destruction of sacred forest and mountain areas, such as Mazao Mountain
· Opening of mining roads in sensitive forest areas, including towards intact forests on the Karawaimintao mountain range
· Mining prospecting in remote watersheds of the Kwitaro and Kuyuwini and Takatu Rivers
· Violation of the right to free, prior and informed consent through imposed mining concessions and the establishment of a mining district (Mining District 6)
· Illegal border crossings from Brazil used by miners, rustlers, smugglers and sports hunters
· Illegal opening of air strips in the Parabara Savannah

Crucially, the tropical forest underpins their distinct collective identity as indigenous peoples and communities feel a deep attachment to the forest, identifying it as their ‘mother’. In a fascinating twist, it is modern technologies that will help the Wapichan in their plight to conserve their traditional way of life and the vast forests upon which they depend for food, medicines, materials, water, rainfall and stable weather patterns. It has been proven that this sacred connection to the land and a deep understanding of the importance of sustainable living means that indigenous communities make for the best conservationists.

   

 

Heddiw, mae pobl Wapichan wedi lansio eu gwefan hwy eu hunain mewn ymgais i ddatgelu troseddau hawlfraint a bygythiadau i’w cymunedau a thiroedd eu cyndeidiau fel canlyniad i fwyngloddio a defnydd anghyfreithlon o adnoddau.

Mae Maint Cymru mewn partneriaeth a Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), NGO rhyngwladol yn grymuso cymunedau brodorol i sicrhau daliadaeth gyfreithlon o dir, megis Wapichan o Guyana. Mae’r Wapichan wedi bod yn ymgyrchu i warchod a sicrhau tiroedd eu cyndeidiau gyda chefnogaeth Maint Cymru, pobl Cymru a ffrindiau megis FPP.

Mae’r Wapichan wedi bod yn casglu data drwy ddefnyddio trefniant fonitro tir ar lawr gwlad sy’n cynnwys ymgyfraniad timau monitro cymunedol, technoleg ffonau smart, dronau a mapiau cymunedol digidol. Mae’r data hwn wedi ei goladu a’i gyflwyno ar eu gwefan newydd y gellir dod o hyn iddi yma: http://wapichanao.communitylands.org.

Mae’r wefan yn eiddo i, ac yn cael ei rheoli gan bentrefi Wapichan a chaiff ei defnyddio i’w helpu yn eu sgyrsiau ffurfiol am dir gyda llywodraeth Guyana a gychwynnodd nôl yn 2016 ac sy’n dal i fynd yn eu blaen.

Mae’r defnydd arloesol hwn o dechnolegau monitro wedi helpu’r Wapichan i ddeall y niwed sy’n cael ei wneud i diroedd eu cyndeidiau. Eglurodd Ron James, mapiwr cymunedol sy’n ymgyfrannu yn eu prosiectau monitro “Drwy fapio ffynonellau llygredd mwynfeydd rydym yn awr yn deall sut mae’n effeithio ar ein systemau afonydd ehangach a chyflenwadau dŵr sy’n hanfodol i’n pentrefi ar gyfer pysgota, ymolchi ac yfed.  Mae blaenddwr afonydd Kwitaro, Kuyiwini a Takatu o dan fygythiad difrifol. Rydym yn tynnu sylw’r awdurdodau amgylcheddol a mwyngloddio at yr wybodaeth hon, sydd wedi ei monitro, ond er hynny mae’r broblem yn parhau a dim yn newid.

   

Yn ogystal â helpu’r Wapichan i ddeall, tracio a chyflwyno effeithiau niweidiol defnydd anghyfreithlon o adnoddau ar eu tiroedd, y gobaith yw y bydd y wefan yn lledaenu ymwybyddiaeth am y troseddu i gynulleidfa genedlaethol a rhyngwladol. Dywedodd Paulinus Albert, Cadeirydd Cyngor Dosbarth De Rupununi (SRDC), corff cyfreithiol sy’n cynrychioli 21 pentref a chymunedau yn nhiriogaeth Wapichan: “Mae ein tiriogaeth o dan bwysau oddi wrth fwyngloddio rhemp a chynlluniau busnesau amaethyddol a datblygiadau ffyrdd.  Mae mwyngloddio heb reolaeth ar ein tiroedd yn arwain at ddatgoedwigo, halogiad safleoedd cysegredig a niwed na ellir ei atgyweirio i’n cilfachau, afonydd a ffynonellau dŵr. Mae’r sefyllfa’n gwaethygu a’r bygythiadau’n cynyddu. Dyna paham yr ydym wedi penderfynu cadw llygad ar ein tiroedd a’n coedwigoedd, a threfnu i gasglu a chyhoeddi gwybodaeth fel y gallwn ddweud  wrth y byd beth sy’n digwydd.”

    

Ers 2015, mae ymweliadau monitro wedi nodi’r effeithiau niweidiol canlynol:

· Llechfeddiant o dir a choedwigoedd cyffredin gan gloddwyr aur anghyfreithlon
· Datgoedwigo a distrywio ein ffynonellau dŵr, cilfachau a gwlypdiroedd, yn cynnwys diflaniad Cilfachau Toucan a Panche yn gyfangwbl, a niwed difrifol i Gilfach Locust
· Llygru cyrsiau dŵr gyda merciwri a sorod
· Dinistrio coedwigoedd cysegredig ac ardaloedd mynyddig megis Mynydd Mazao
· Agor ffyrdd mwyngloddio mewn ardaloedd coedwigoedd sensitif, yn cynnwys i gyfeiriad coedwigoedd cyflawn ar gadwyn fynyddig Karawaimintao
· Archwilio mwyngloddio mewn cefnau deuddwr anghysbell afonydd Kwitaro a Kuyuwini a
· croesi ffiniau’n anghyfreithlon o Brazil yn cynnwys cloddwyr, lladron anifeiliaid, smyglwyr a helwyr
· Agor lleiniau i awyrennau yn anghyfreithlon yn Parabara Savannah

Yn anad dim, mae coedwigoedd trofannol yn sail i gyd-hunaniaeth neilltuol gan fod pobl frodorol a chymunedau’n teimlo cysylltiad agos iawn â’r coedwigoedd, gan eu henwi fel eu ‘mam’. Tro rhyfedd yn y gynffon yw mai technoleg fodern fydd yn helpu’r Wapichan yn eu hymgyrch i warchod eu dull traddodiadol o fwy a’r fforestydd eang y maent yn dibynnu arnynt am eu bwyd, meddyginiaeth, deunyddiau, dŵr, dŵr glaw a phatrymau tywydd sefydlog.  Mae wedi cael ei brofi mai cymunedau brodorol yw’r gwarchodwyr gorau oherwydd eu cysylltiad cysegredig hwn â’r tir a’u dealltwriaeth ddofn o bwysigrwydd byw yn gynaliadwy.