Writes: Alberto Romero
We are in the month of the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the complex of Protected Natural Areas (ANP) of Güeppì, located in the department of Loreto and it is worth making a reminder of the process of its constitution, its present and future.
When we speak of the Güeppí Protected Natural Areas Complex, we are referring to the set of ANPs that comprise the Güeppí Sekime National Park, the Airo Pai Communal Reserve and the Huimeki Communal Reserve; categorized as such at the same time in October 2012, through Supreme Resolution No. 006-2012-MINAM. This complex comprises a vast territory with a total extension of 592,750.56 ha., Which is located in Peru, in the northernmost part of the department of Loreto, province of Maynas, districts of Torres Causana and Teniente Manuel Clavero, very close to the border limits. with the Republics of Ecuador and Colombia.
It should be noted that due to its geographical location, this complex of protected areas is part of the Trinational Program for Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Corridor of Protected Natural Areas, together with the Cuyabeno Fauna Production Reserve in Ecuador and with the La Paya National Natural Park in Ecuador. Colombia. Its objective is the construction of an Amazon conservation vision based on a coordinated approach to neighboring border protected areas.
It is also important to note that prior to their final categorization, these three ANPs were part of a larger area called the Güeppí Reserved Zone, established in April 1997 by Supreme Decree No. 003-97-AG, with a surface area of 625,971 ha. More than 15 long years had to pass, during which favorable and unfavorable facts and events occurred that facilitated or interfered in the crystallization of this complex that was initially proposed to be a national reserve and then, with the ideas and suggestions received, they were divided in the three natural areas mentioned above.
It is important to highlight the decisive role played by the native communities neighboring this complex, which belong to the Secoya, Kichwa and Huitoto indigenous peoples; It is also important to mention the role played by indigenous organizations, such as the Secoya Organization of Peru (OISPE), the Kichwa Indigenous Federation of Alto Putumayo Inti Runa (FIKAPIR) and the Kichwaruna Wangurina Organization of Alto Napo (ORKIWAN). They were in the forefront defending the categorization of these three ANPs and also proposed the inclusion of the two communal reserves that were not considered in the original proposal; we refer to the AiroPai Communal Reserve (forest people, in Secoya language), and the Huimeki Communal Reserve (whose name refers to the relationship between natives and mestizos, where HUI represents the Huitoto ethnic group; ME, the mestizo populations; and KI to the Kichwa ethnic group).
It was these organizations, spokespersons for their affiliated communities, who assumed a position of defense and ancestral protection of forest resources; and incidentally, the recognition of the existence of indigenous populations in this area as an expression of a cultural potential that also had to be taken into account.
In this categorization process, we must also highlight the contributions and efforts of various institutions from civil society, national and international, constituted by cooperating sources, Non-Governmental Organizations such as the Center for the Development of the Amazonian Indigenous (CEDIA), universities and some research organizations. Professionals, researchers and lovers of the forest and nature also bet on the idea of forming this complex.
The resource potential of the forest within this complex is enormous and varied. A Rapid and Social Biological Inventory carried out in 2007 by The Field Museum of Chicago in the areas of Cuyabeno (Ecuador) and Güeppí (Peru) resulted in the existence of approximately 3000 to 4000 species of plants, from 260 to 300 species of fish, 90 species of amphibians, 60 species of reptiles, 50 species of birds and 56 species of medium and large mammals, in addition to the discovery of new species of plants, fish and amphibians for science.
The cultural potential that this Complex holds is represented by the presence of indigenous peoples who live there, each developing their own culture and are organized into native communities. We refer to the Secoya, the Kichwa and the Huitoto. The former are possibly the most ancient; that at some point they came to expand through the basins of the Alto Napo, Aguarico, Lagartococha rivers, the Putumayo river and its tributaries Yaricaya, Angusilla, Yubineto and Campuya. The Kichwa, according to some versions, are descendants of the Quijos, located in the current territory of Ecuador, who were brought to Peru by the rubber bosses at the beginning of the 20th century and whose dialect is consolidated by the action of the missionaries during their evangelization work. , occupying first the area of the Alto Napo river and later, as a result of migratory movements from a part of the Putumayo. On the other hand, the Huitoto, whose ancestors were from the Caquetá region, were brought by the missionaries as a result of the raids for the exploitation of Rubber.
Currently, the administration of this Complex is in charge of a Headquarters that is part of the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SERNANP). Its main mission is the conservation and protection of the ecosystems, landscapes and species that inhabit there, especially the threatened ones, the endemic ones and that have suffered strong pressure on their population levels. In addition, in the specific case of the two communal reserves, they are intended to promote the participatory conservation of the different biological and cultural samples, traditional life zones, sacred places and the sustainable management of resources for the benefit of neighboring populations. local both ethnic and mestizo.
Today, the administration of this Complex faces different circumstances and threats, such as the increase in the population located in its surrounding areas, the illegal extraction of resources in some of its peripheral sectors that must be fought in alliance with neighboring populations. , the lack of greater infrastructure and economic and human resources to improve surveillance activities. But there are also potentialities that must be taken into account, such as tourism that can be a source of economic resources that contributes to the maintenance of these areas, as well as the use of existing hydrobiological resources through management plans.
An efficient management of this Complex of ANPs depends on the mechanisms and instruments that are implemented for this purpose. In this regard, the Güeppí Sekime National Park already has its Master Plan, in which CEDIA actively participated; It was developed in a participatory manner through multiple workshops that were attended by various local and regional actors. Additionally, -also with the support of CEDIA- the Airo Pai Communal Reserve has its respective co-executing body such as the Executor of the Sieko Pai Administration Contract -ECA SIEKO PAI-, duly recognized by SERNANP through Directorial Resolution No. 041- 2017-SERNANP-DGANP issued in June of this year. However, the implementation of other instruments is pending, such as the master plans of the two communal reserves, the creation of the management committees of these three ANPs and the constitution of the Executor of the Administration Contract of the Huimeki Communal Reserve, with which the They will complete the main axes for the management of these areas and their environments.
There is an important role that the native communities and their representative organizations must play in an organized way, supporting SERNANP in the management of these three areas. For this it is necessary that they be trained and take responsibility for this task. If before they were the ones that conserved the existing forest in all this territory based on a harmonious coexistence with nature, today they have to maintain that same attitude, becoming the main vigilantes of these ANPs.
CEDIA has been pleased to have provided our collaboration and technical assistance, both to the Headquarters of these three areas and to the SERNANP administration, in the various opportunities that we have been summoned, participating in the execution of certain activities. Specifically, between 2009 and 2012, through the “Putumayo Three Borders” Project, we participated in the recognition and titling of 06 native communities and the expansion of 02 communities all located in the Putumayo river area; And then, since 2016, through the Project "Expansion of the Airo Pai Communal Reserve", financed by the cooperating entity Rainforest Trust, we have been supporting the implementation of the administration instruments of this Complex, such as its master plans, the administration committees and in the constitution of the Administration Contract Executors (ECAs) of the two communal reserves. We maintain that same disposition for the future with the ultimate goal of achieving the consolidation of this Complex of areas, hoping that it will continue to achieve new and greater achievements in the following years, for the benefit of present and future generations and thus contributing to the conservation of our planet that is our home.
At the end of this note, from CEDIA we express our fraternal greetings to the Headquarters of this complex of ANPs for this new anniversary, as well as to its professional and technical staff, wishing them all kinds of successes and a successful management that involves the participation of the neighboring populations to those areas.