The Wampís’ ancestral territories in the heart of the Amazon rainforest are under threat from many sides including extractive industries such as mining. In partnership with the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), we are working with the Wampís to secure the legal rights to their land, a vast forested territory that they have occupied for millennia. Given the growing recognition of the role that indigenous communities are playing in forest conservation, this project aims to secure Wampís territory with strong governance, better protecting it from harm.
Last year the Wampís secured a major legal victory which resulted in the suspension of oil and gas activities in Block 116 of their territory. The historic court ruling in August 2018 over an 80,000-hectare area of land has resulted in the suspension of all activities in the area (at exploratory phase), and orders to carry out prior consultation process with affected Wampís and Awajun peoples, including a new Environmental Impact Study.
This victory shows just how important the support provided to the Wampís by FPP is in tackling tropical deforestation. The resulting increased knowledge and confidence has enabled the community to effectively engage with government officials and defend their rights and their land.
The favourable court ruling was especially significant as it marks the first time a Peruvian court has definitively upheld a sentence recognising Amazonian Indigenous Peoples’ rights to be consulted and to consent to oil and gas operations within their territories. The companies carrying out the exploration have been ordered to withdraw and carry out no activities until consultation with the communities who live on the land has been carried out.
This ruling not only directly benefits the Wampís and Awajun peoples, but also sets a powerful legal precedent for other Indigenous Peoples across the Peruvian Amazon.
The ruling effectively means that every oil, gas and mining concession established since 1995 in Peru is illegal if it failed to consult with affected indigenous peoples. It thereby opens the possibility for indigenous peoples affected by almost every active concession in the Peruvian Amazon, where there is highest production potential for the oil and gas industry, to successfully challenge their creation. As such, the legal and political consequences of the ruling are yet to be seen but it’s thought it could represent as much as 50 million hectares of forest protected!
Big congratulations to the Wampís community on an important victory, not only for them but for other indigenous communities of the Peruvian Amazon, and for the future of the Amazon itself.
If you want to learn more about this project, visit the Wampís project page.
The project benefits from the support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation – www.fpa2.org