Nature and Culture’s Fall Newsletter

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Welcome to Nature and Culture’s latest conservation update, a direct glimpse into our ongoing efforts across Latin America.

We’re excited to share updates on our latest initiatives and projects, including a 360 view of one of our very first protected areas, the Cazaderos Reserve, a brand new protected area in Bolivia, and amazing avian biodiversity in Peru.

Our commitment to safeguarding the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage of this remarkable region remains unwavering, and it is thanks to supporters like you that our projects continue to thrive. Thank you for joining us on this journey!

Real Stories. Real Impact.

Two recent climate wins driven by local citizens highlight the strength of local communities in protecting nature.

In the ongoing effort to combat climate change, there are events that highlight the potential for progress. Today, we invite you to take a closer look at two significant climate victories, on opposite sides of the globe but connected by a common thread: the tangible outcomes achievable when people work together for the betterment of our planet.

Ecuadorians proved that they care deeply about the environment with the passage of the Yasuní referendum. 

Something incredible has taken place in Ecuador’s elections earlier this month. Over 5 million people came together to pass a referendum to protect the Yasuní National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon from any further oil extraction. This is huge step towards mitigating climate change. This passed referendum will block oil extraction in Indigenous territories, in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. The resounding “yes” vote marked a monumental victory for environmental preservation and the rights of Indigenous communities.

The Yasuní National Park is much more than a natural treasure.

Protected areas such as the Yasuní National Park are key tools to guarantee ecosystem services like clean air and fresh water, and help to mitigate climate change. That is why we must protect them and ensure their long-term sustainability. Ecuadorians made a choice for the future of Yasuní and showed that they care deeply for nature. This sets a precedent for the country and the world in the fight against climate change.

While this achievement was not a result of Nature and Culture’s efforts, it has major implications for the future of the Ecuadorian Amazon and resonates deeply with our unique approach to conservation. At our core, we believe in fostering solutions that originate with local communities and believe in the transformative power of community involvement.

In the U.S., the recent court ruling, in favor of local students, will require the state of Montana to consider climate change when deciding whether to approve or renew fossil fuel projects

The Yasuní victory is just one example of how community-centered conservation can lead to remarkable change. The recent Montana Climate Lawsuit in the United States similarly demonstrates that when communities take the lead and have a stake in decisions affecting their environment, they can achieve extraordinary outcomes.

Hear from Nature and Culture CEO on these recent climate wins

Restoration improves the structure and functionality of forests for local communities

We often hear about the devastating effects of deforestation and degradation in rainforests and ask ourselves, what can be done to stop this? Indigenous communities in the Pastaza province of Ecuador refuse to stand idly by. With the help of Nature and Culture International, they have taken on a forest restoration project to renew their ancestral degraded lands and reinvigorate the local ecosystem.

Nature and Culture, through the “Actions for the Amazon” project, is taking action to prevent and reverse deforestation in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This project will also guarantee the rights and sustainable livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and local communities through the implementation of the ancestral practice of traditional Chakra gardens.

The project began in September 2022, with the goal of restoring 235 acres of degraded land.

Due to the rate of deforestation and the need for intervention in the area, the Shuar Kawa Indigenous community was first selected from a list of priority areas by Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment. Additionally, Nature and Culture seeks to incorporate the Shuar Kawa restoration goals into Pastaza’s REDD+ Plan for the implementation of measures and actions to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (PdIPPz REDD+). The REDD+ Plans are part of a framework of the United Nations Development Project and provide long-term climate funding to support Indigenous and local communities’ conservation efforts.

People from the Shuar Kawa community actively participated in the project

The Shuar Kawa community was consulted and actively involved in the decision-making process.

With their consent, the Nature and Culture team has focused on educating local communities on the benefits of forest restoration and provided training around reforestation tactics. This way, the local communities will be able to continue the project for years to come. Initially, the team constructed a temporary nursery for the propagation of 63 native species. The seedlings will be established in local watersheds, helping to maintain groundwater and access to clean water in dryer seasons.

Seedlings from the nursery will also be used in “Chakras”, or multi-species traditional Indigenous gardens.

Traditionally, the women of the community took care of the Chakra gardens, and their position as conservationists is more important than ever within the project. Men and women have worked together to reforest the gardens using specific trees and plants that provide food security and an additional source of income.

Women are traditionally in charge of caring for the Chakras

“We did not come just to restore. By sharing and talking with the people of the communities, we have learned a lot, complementing the technical aspect with their culture and traditions”

– Amparo Lima, Restoration Specialist, Nature and Culture

Restoration is important because it allows us to recuperate the structure and functionality of forests, which improves the quality and quantity of water collected for community consumption.

So far, the team has already restored 190 acres of land.

The communities’ enthusiasm and participation have been crucial in achieving this goal.

This level of community involvement and collaboration should serve as a model for other conservation projects in Ecuador and beyond. By working together, communities and organizations can reforest portions of the Amazon Rainforest and protect the planet. This project serves as an example of what is possible when we work together to restore our natural world.

Indigenous women have long been the backbone of their communities, preserving their traditions, culture, and knowledge for generations. However, Indigenous communities across the world are facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change. As the world comes together to address the climate crisis, it is essential that Indigenous female leaders are included in the international climate conversation to ensure that their voices and perspectives are heard. That is why, in the last year, Nature and Culture has supported two of our Indigenous partners in attending United Nations conferences

We are committed to amplifying the voices of Indigenous leaders by ensuring their inclusion in the global climate conversation.

In the past year, Nature and Culture sent two Indigenous female leaders, Lolita Piyaguaje of the Siekopai Nationality and Vice President of CONFENIAE and Josefina Tunki of the Shuar Arutam Nationality, to United Nations conferences. In November 2022, Piyaguaje traveled with Nature and Culture CEO, Matt Clark, to Egypt for the United Nations Climate Conference (COP27) For Piyaguaje, it was “an honor to be in this space giving voice in defense of our territories and the human rights of the people who live in the Ecuadorian Amazon.” Clark and Piyaguaje attended the conference, speaking together on a panel about Indigenous leadership preventing deforestation within the Amazonian province of Pastaza.

Lolita Piyaguaje of the Siekopai nationality and Vice President of CONFENIAE with Nature and Culture CEO, Matt Clark at COP27

Josefina Tunki, who just completed her four-year term as the President of the Shuar Arutam Nationality, traveled to the United Nations Water Conference in New York in March 2023 where she and Clark presented on water resources in the Amazon. She is from one of four Indigenous nationalities Nature and Culture worked with to create the 3-million-acre protected area, Tarímiat Pujutaí Nunka. She is fighting to keep her ancestral territory free of mining activities that have devastated her community.

Josefina Tunki standing in front of mining excavators in the Amazon, Photo courtesy of Nora Sanchez

Historically, Indigenous peoples have not been included in these critical conversations even though Indigenous territories hold 80% of the world’s biodiversity and Indigenous communities preserve their forests at twice the rate of other protected areas. Nature and Culture is working to change this paradigm and ensure that the voices of the world’s greatest conservationists are heard on the global level.

Indigenous women are often the primary caretakers of their families and communities, and they depend on the environment for their livelihoods.

Climate change has a direct impact on their way of life, as it can lead to food and water scarcity, displacement, and loss of traditional knowledge. For Tunki and the people of the Shuar Arutam, “The forest is our mother, it sustains us.” In the province of Pastaza in Ecuador, “the forest was our supermarket, but now the fish are contaminated, there’s no more medicine, and we can’t eat.” According to Piyaguaje, “We want to live without pollution, without destruction, and, above all, to live healthily with our rights, our identity, our culture, our language.” Sending Indigenous female leaders to international climate conferences ensures that their experiences and concerns are taken into account when developing policies and solutions.

Lolita Piyaguaje shares, “We want to live without pollution, without destruction, and, above all, to live healthily with our rights, our identity, our culture, our language.”

Indigenous women have a deep understanding of their local environments and the impact of climate change on their communities. They have unique perspectives and solutions that can contribute to the development of effective climate policies. In Piyaguaje’s words, “proposals and projects need to be co-designed with the communities and with our needs in mind. If these policies come from the top, they won’t work.” By including Indigenous female leaders in international climate conferences, policymakers can gain valuable insights that can inform their decision-making.

Clean water is one of the most important resources in the rainforest and extractive activities are the primary threat.

Tunki has long fought for clean water protection for the 47 communities of the Shuar Arutam Nationality. “Ancestrally, we have always known the value of the rivers and freshwater. Historically, our rivers were never contaminated. An uncontaminated environment gives you a healthy life and helps you live with joy, without epidemics. We’re now fighting to sustain the fresh water of the Amazon and looking for the best strategies for protection. We invite the whole world to reflect on the fact that it is us, the humans, that are contaminating the planet. Not the animals, not the birds, not the fish, since they respect nature. It’s the humans.”

Both women agree that the biggest threats to their ancestral lands are petroleum extraction and mining. Extractive activities pollute the rivers and lead to deforestation. They both attest that petroleum and mining companies are not doing enough to mitigate environmental impacts and that the Ecuadorian and other governments are responsible for enforcing mitigation.

For both Piyaguaje and Tunki, being a woman is key to their leadership.

“I feel proud to have worthily served as a woman in my organization, demonstrating that women are also capable of representing an organization on the municipal, provincial, national, and international levels,” says Josefina. Intersectionality and inclusion are key to the future, says Lolita. “It’s important that women participate in these processes, we have to work very hard towards intersectionality. Women should not just be sitting at the meetings, but they should be making decisions.”

“I feel proud to have worthily served as a woman in my organization, demonstrating that women are also capable of representing an organization on the municipal, provincial, national, and international levels,” says Josefina.

On April 22th we commemorate Earth Day, an opportunity to recognize our role in caring for the planet and all the forms of life that inhabit it.

For our Peru Country Director, Guillermo Maraví, it is necessary to create immediate actions to stop the accelerated loss of biodiversity and generate effective actions collaboratively to address climate change.

In this sense, he emphasizes that Nature and Culture International, in addition to promoting the establishment of conservation areas connected to other conservation initiatives, also engages in their management and handling, with the aim of making them sustainable over time. For Guillermo, this work, which is only possible because we do it in collaboration with local, peasant and indigenous communities, must prevail, because it is there where the accumulated knowledge for years about caring for the land has many of the solutions to the world’s climate and biodiversity crisis.

In addition, in Peru, we help endangered and endemic species have a safe place to feed and move. We protect the habitat of animals such as the spatuletail hummingbird in Amazonas, known for being one of the most beautiful hummingbirds in the world, or the emblematic spectacled bear that we have registered in Piura, Cajamarca, Amazonas, and Huánuco.

Marvelous spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis), an endangered species of hummingbird endemic to northern Peru.

Peru is home to thousands of species whose habitats we must protect and rehabilitate! Our actions matter. Let’s be responsible! We have only one planet to live on, with hundreds of plants and animals that, like us, depend on the good condition of ecosystems, pure air, fresh water, and so many other services provided by Mother Earth.

Real Stories. Real Impact.

New protected areas, beekeeping for conservation, and gender equity in reforestation are a few of the stories you’ll explore in our 2023 Spring Newsletter!

Make a donation today to continue supporting projects like these!

The 6th Assessment Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that despite progress in climate mitigation efforts, the current pace of action is insufficient to keep global temperatures below the threshold of 1.5°C. That is the threshold beyond which scientists say climate impacts increase significantly and damage becomes rapidly irreversible. Below is a summary of the report’s findings.

Action needs to happen now, this is the decisive decade

To ensure temperatures do not exceed the threshold of 1.5°C, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will need to peak within this decade, decline by 43% by 2030, and 60% by 2035. Adverse climate impacts are already far more extreme than initial reports anticipated. The current global surface temperature has already warmed 1.1°C above preindustrial levels. With this alone, there has been an increase in biodiversity loss, drought, extreme heat, and flooding, among other impacts. Despite a decrease in the cost of green energy, improved technologies, and national commitments to reduce GHG emissions. These measures have continued to increase and will fall short. Unsustainable energy use, land use, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production all contribute to the GHG emissions. A rapid scaling of policy and increased funding to climate is needed to achieve climate stabilization.

Even small increases in overall temperature matter

The report defines the risks, adverse impacts, and related losses and damages from climate change at varying degrees of temperature rises. At each tier, the loss of biodiversity increases, access to clean water and food decreases, and sea levels rise. There is no question that any positive changes to keep global warming in check will help to avoid further loss of life and encourage ecosystem health. At a certain point, it is no longer reversible. As certain losses and damage occur, reversal and adaptation options are far less feasible, if even effective at all. It is important to take every action possible at this very moment. Hope lies in the prevention of further tipping the warming scales.

A member of the Shuar Indigenous nationality in the province of Morona Santiago, Ecuador.

Biggest impacts threaten those who have historically contributed the least to climate change

According to the IPCC, nearly half of the global population lives in areas where their lives or livelihoods are under threat of climate change. It is said that between 3.3 billion and 3.6 billion people live in countries that are highly vulnerable to climate impacts, including those within Central and South America where Nature and Culture operates. In addition, many of these areas face extreme poverty, governance challenges, and limited access to financial resources or technical support. In this 6th Assessment Report, the IPCC also notes that climate adaptation challenges are often “exacerbated by inequity and marginalization linked to gender, ethnicity, low income or combinations thereof, especially for many Indigenous Peoples and local communities.”

Data on the global inequalities of CO2 emissions reveals that higher-earning countries as well as higher-earning individuals produce more of the world’s GHGs and yet it is those who are producing the least who are most heavily impacted. The highest income-earning households contribute around 45% of the world’s consumption-based CO2 emissions, while the bottom 50% account for only around 15%.

The threats of climate change weigh more heavily on regions that are not historically responsible for the production of GHGs; however, the world is looking to many of these areas for quick adaptation efforts or asking for limitation on development that could provide an immediate higher standard of living. That is why it is important to allow these most vulnerable groups or regions inclusive governance, and transparent and participatory decision-making for mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Tropical forests provide ecosystem services such as food security and clean water and air.

What is Nature and Culture’s role?

Protecting Earth’s remaining oceans, plants, animals, and soils is the most cost-effective climate adaptation option. The most potential exists in preventing deforestation in tropical regions. For Nature and Culture that means maintaining tropical forests in the Amazon and Andes. Long-term management of our protected areas supports biodiversity resilience in the region and supports ecosystem services at a global scale, including the sequestration of billions of tons of carbon. Beyond the protection and management of these threatened forests, reforestation and agroforestry (or sustainably cultivating native crops) also contribute to climate mitigation. All these efforts can positively affect local communities if they are done in coordination with the people who live in these areas. Reforestation can improve air quality, access to clean water and food, and agroforestry techniques include economic benefits that have potential to reduce poverty and improve local livelihoods.

The Amazon Rainforest stores billions of tons of carbon and provides ecosystem services to the entire planet. Protection and long-term management of these tropical forests benefits all life on the planet.

Many climate adaptation solutions already exist and positively impact global well-being

According to the report, there are feasible, effective, low-cost, low-trade-off options already available, and many include wider societal benefits. A major conclusion of the synthesis is the need to prioritize equity, climate justice, social justice, and inclusion in the near-term actions to mitigate climate change.

Focusing on societal enhancements like education, hunger, poverty, gender, and energy access can support regions and people with the highest climate change vulnerabilities. It not only supports overall societal well-being, but it can also scaffold climate adaptation development programs. Recognition of the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples is also crucial to successful adaptation across forests and other ecosystems, according to the report. This has always been a cornerstone of Nature and Culture’s work, prioritizing the needs of the local communities we work with.

Looking to communities, governments and businesses for leadership

Cooperative climate mitigation is essential. This means including climate adaptation practices that are informed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Truly effective climate action will involve coordination among many stakeholders. A prime example of this in action is in our work on the Amazonian Platform, This is a agreement between 7 Indigenous nationalities and local governments to manage 11 million acres of the Amazon rainforest. Nature and Culture supports projects that require buy-in from varying levels of government and marketplaces and include frameworks that hear a multitude of voices, including Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

At the Shuar El Kiim Center, the first Indigenous-managed, nationally recognized conservation area is celebrated by members of the Shuar community with Nature and Culture technician, Trotsky Riera.

The climate adaptation measures we implement are done in close collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and local communities and in partnership with local government. These types of projects put people at the heart of the outcome and provide access to finance and technology that would otherwise be unavailable. They often also provide other economic benefits, such as food and water security and improve the overall health of the human populations while safeguarding biodiversity and promoting carbon sequestration.

Please join us in safeguarding our climate future by making a donation today!

Peruvians are a resilient, united, strong, and proudly biodiverse country. We have shown that together we are capable of making small actions to generate big changes. On International Forest Day we want to recognize the efforts of Peruvians who joined the “Plant a tree and sow life” campaign.

A few months ago, we involved the general public in Peru in the “Plant a tree and sow life” campaign with the aim of giving back to the forest of the peasant communities of Llamapampa La Jalca and San Pedro de Chuquibamba in Amazonas and thereby recovering ecosystem services such as climate control, water regulation, and flood control.

This campaign was born as part of an agreement between the Amazon Voluntary Conservation Network – AMA, which brings together voluntary conservation initiatives, and Nature and Culture International, which works in the Private Conservation Areas of both communities.

#Residents of the communities of Llamapampa La Jalca and San Pedro de Chuquibamba in Amazonas who took part in the campaign

During the campaign, the main protagonists were the residents of the communities, who took care of the native plants in the community, until they had the resources to move them to the forest and plant them in degraded areas. Now, these trees are monitored and receive the necessary care to develop.

#Napoleón Vega Escobedo took part in the campaign

We spoke with Napoleón Vega Escobedo, president of the Palmira Forestry-Agricultural Association, in the Leymebamba district, and he describes the campaign as an opportunity to strengthen the propagation of native and medicinal species, the latter with added value for marketing.

Thanks to the “Plant a tree and sow life” campaign, dozens of Peruvians did their bit to maintain the good condition of the forest, improve the climatic conditions for humanity and the hundreds of animals that live in both ACPs, because there they find necessary food and ideal setting to reproduce.

As a supporter of Nature and Culture, take a moment to review our impact in 2022! 

Our 2022 Annual Impact Report is a testament to our commitment to community-based conservation. As trailblazers in this field, the well-being of local communities is as important as protecting and conserving natural resources. For us, those go hand in hand.  

Our work is organized into 5 key strategy areas: wild places, climate, water, people, and species. As you read through this report, you’ll see how our team approaches our projects through these lenses, ensuring the long term overall health of the areas we protect. 

Please remember that none of this would be possible without the generous support we’ve received from so many of you!

Nature and Culture attends COP27, the U.N. climate conference held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, November 6 – 18, 2022.

The opportunity for Nature and Culture to attend COP, participate in the climate conversation and amplify Indigenous voices in climate action is a significant milestone for the organization.

Nature and Culture’s President & CEO, Matt Clark and Lolita Piyahuaje, Vice President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon’s (CONFENIAE) attended the conference, speaking together on a panel about Indigenous leadership within Pastaza Province’s jurisdictional REDD+ program. This program is the first of its kind in Ecuador, bringing together 7 Indigenous nationalities, the local provincial government, CONFENIAE, and Nature and Culture International to implement activities to reduce deforestation.

Nature and Culture President & CEO, Matt Clark and (CONFENIAE) Vice President, Lolita Piyahuaje at COP 27 with co-presenters, Marioldy Sanchez, Forest Alliance Manager, and Diana Mori, Shipibo-Conibo Indigenous Leader.

The project provides a new set of insights into the processes and structures that allow for meaningful Indigenous participation, equitable benefit sharing, and free and prior consent, all major themes of this year’s conference.

Watch the full presentation below.

COP27 Presentation: Indigenous Leadership in Amazonian REDD+ Program

COP27 Major Themes Related to our work

Providing carbon funding directly to Indigenous Peoples

The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said earlier this year that Indigenous Peoples are “critical” to addressing climate change. Their report cited the fundamental importance of recognizing their land tenure, knowledge systems, and management of forests.

Reducing tropical deforestation can contribute as much as 20 percent of the solution to reach the U.N. Paris Accord target of halting the average global temperature to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Indigenous Peoples live on about 60 percent of the world’s tropical forests. And they are not receiving fair compensation for the sustainable management of these forests. Of the 1.7 billion that was pledged at COP26 to support Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ forest tenure, only about 7 percent, of the 19 percent already delivered, has gone directly to Indigenous-led organizations.

Although a theme from years prior, the slow pace of carbon funding reaching Indigenous nationalities received particular attention at this year’s climate meeting. Lolita addressed the issue in her remarks as did numerous Indigenous speakers on other panels and workshops. Among potential solutions, they highlighted the need for two-way knowledge exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors and a joint commitment to create funding and administrative structures consistent with Indigenous forms of governance. They also stressed the importance of building the technical, administrative and financial capacity of all actors in order to facilitate direct funding to Indigenous Peoples.

On the complex nature of providing timely carbon funding directly to Indigenous Peoples Matt Clark explains, “On one hand, there’s this urgency to combat climate change. We’re rapidly blasting past the Paris Climate Accord. That goal will soon be unattainable if we don’t take drastic actions now. There’s also clearly an urgency that Indigenous Peoples feel to be compensated for conserving their forests. They’re tired of waiting. On the other hand, it’s critical to take the time to build trust and mutual understanding. Carbon markets are technically, socially, and politically COMPLICATED and the free, prior, and informed consent that Indigenous Peoples demand and deserve cannot be completed quickly.”

Pastaza: a case study for Indigenous Inclusion in climate mitigation.

Nature and Culture has long-established relationships with Indigenous communities that are crucial to ensuring transparency and mutual benefit. Though a work in progress, the multi-stakeholder REDD+ Pastaza project is a good example of this.

The partnership Nature and Culture established with the provincial government of Pastaza, 7 Indigenous nationalities, and the Indigenous Confederation, CONFENIAE has led to a shared framework where all parties have endorsed guiding principles that recognize Indigenous rights.

The collaborative framework also utilizes a trust fund that accepts and channels funds to Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors alike with control and oversight from a board of directors that includes representatives of the 7 Indigenous nationalities, the Indigenous confederation, and the provincial and other local governments.

These funds are used to implement four actionable activities: restoration, conservation, sustainable livelihoods, and improvements to governance mechanisms. Throughout this process, local Indigenous communities are consulted and their Planes de Vida, or community development and territorial zoning plans according to an Indigenous worldview are incorporated into the project design.

These Planes de Vida are overseen by Indigenous representatives who understand the Indigenous worldview and can encourage further community participation.

It is important to empower women and youth. Revenues from this project may also support gender equality training, as well as improve healthcare, housing, education, better living conditions, and clean water.

Chakras, or multi-species traditional gardens, are another way funds are used which provide food security and a means for additional income. Medicinal, and/or culturally important crops can be harvested and brought to market. Furthermore, there is an interest in developing a bigger market for forest products. Products would use a ‘green seal’ that signals they are sustainably sourced from the tropical rainforests.

To have a real climate impact, Indigenous Peoples must be consulted, considered, and invited to participate as equal partners. This project in Pastaza is beginning to show that not only is that possible, but it also has direct and lasting conservation impacts.

Climate change adaptation, species discovery, and newly declared protected areas in Nature and Culture’s latest round-up of news from 2022.

Our strength as an organization lies within the passion of people around the globe who share our same dream. As part of the Nature and Culture community, you help us achieve so much — diverse vibrant cultures; wild places alive with plants and animals, and clean water and other ecosystem services for communities throughout Latin America. Thank you!


New protected areas, bioeconomy projects, environmental education, and some of our largest conservation efforts to date in Nature and Culture’s first round of highlights from 2022.

Nature and Culture International’s strength is in people who share the same dreams: of diverse vibrant cultures; of forests and savannas alive with plants and animals; of clean water and air and a livable climate. 


When we think about the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, we often associate it with the burning of fossil fuels and not much else. When we see cars’ exhausts releasing black smoke or power stations puffing clouds into the sky, it’s as though we can see the CO2 accumulating in the air. However, there is another major contributor to CO2 emissions that is less often discussed — the destruction of ecosystems with irrecoverable carbon stores.

What is ‘Irrecoverable Carbon’?

Natural landscapes hold on to carbon in their ecosystems like air trapped in a balloon. When ecosystems are destroyed, it’s like popping that balloon. Just as the air in a balloon escapes, the carbon sequestered in an ecosystem will be released when the landscape is destroyed.

As vegetation such as trees grow, CO2 from the atmosphere is absorbed by the plant through the process of photosynthesis. This is then converted into carbon which is used by the plant like building blocks. Carbon helps them grow and build biomass like trunks, roots, and leaves.

When plants, which naturally store carbon are destroyed, CO2 is released. This is the plant’s biomass decomposing, or in some cases burning when mass areas are cleared. As we see more ecosystems destroyed to make way for agriculture, development, or mining, among other human activities, we see more of this carbon escape and a huge CO2 increase in the atmosphere.

Irrecoverable Carbon

Certain ecosystems such as peatlands and rainforests become an even bigger climate threat when destroyed because of the vast amount of carbon they store.

The increase in CO2 emissions from activities like deforestation in ecosystems where large amounts of carbon are stored would not be reversible in time to reach the 2050 net-zero emissions goal and prevent the significant impacts of climate change. In this case, we call the carbon stored in these ecosystems “irrecoverable carbon.” Meaning, it is vital to protect the ecosystems that hold large amounts of carbon to avoid irreversible damage to our world.

The Amazon rainforest is one of the most iconic rainforests in the world and is well known for being the “lungs of the planet.” With the amount of irrecoverable carbon trapped in its trees, vegetation, and soil, it doesn’t just have the potential for removing CO2 from the atmosphere, but also must be protected to prevent huge amounts of carbon from being released. 

What does this mean for our world?

The whole planet is facing threats from human expansion and destructive activities, so it is difficult to know where to start with conservation. Forests are incredibly important to life on this planet. They provide habitat for plants, animals, and humans. They secure fresh water, release oxygen, and — of course — store carbon.

Threatened ecosystems that hold irrecoverable carbon stores include peatlands, mangroves, old-growth forests, and marshes. The protection of these ecosystems must be a priority in order to prevent major impacts from climate change.

It is estimated that fifteen billion trees are cut down each year globally and this deforestation is adding to the impact we are seeing from climate change. As we mentioned earlier, this puts irrecoverable carbon trapped in ecosystems at risk of being released. This is particularly true for old-growth forests, which are difficult to replenish. Simply planting trees will not recover the lost carbon from deforestation.

What makes the situation worse is the fact that the Amazon rainforest is now showing reduced resilience. In other words, it has a decreased ability to replenish lost areas of forest due to deforestation and extractive activities. As the rainforest loses resilience, we see more, larger-scale disasters, such as uncontrollable forest fires, causing further forest dieback.

With so much forest destruction, particularly in the Amazon, we are continuously seeing increases in CO2 levels in our atmosphere. This needs to stop if we are going to be able to reverse the effects of climate change and prevent the resulting disasters caused by changing weather patterns, famine and loss of biodiversity.


At Nature and Culture, we strive to safeguard large areas of forest, particularly in the Amazon.

We work tirelessly with local communities and governments to establish protected areas to help retain irrecoverable carbon storage, so it doesn’t make it into the atmosphere. We also partner with Indigenous communities to help protect their land and their ancestral sustainability practices. The best protectors of forests and other threatened ecosystems are the Indigenous communities that live within them. By protecting the rights of Indigenous communities, we can also defend natural areas threatened by human activities. This in turn will help prevent future climate change impacts through preserving irrecoverable carbon storage in these ecosystems.

Amazon Rainforest

There are many things you can do to help stop the destruction of irrecoverable carbon-storing ecosystems.

You can begin by buying sustainably and not purchasing products produced in threatened areas like the Amazon. Check labels and research companies to be sure that they are working towards more sustainable goals. Don’t buy from companies that encourage logging and clearance of land in these vital ecosystems.

You can donate to our work to protect important ecosystems holding irrecoverable carbon, which helps prevent the potential for uncontrollable consequences of climate change in our future. Find out more about our previous projects and the 22 million acres we have successfully protected so far here. By contributing to our cause, you will be helping ecosystems, people, and the planet.

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On March 16, the Ecuadorian provinces of Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago were accepted by unanimous member vote into the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF), joining Pastaza (Ecuador’s first GCF member) and 37 states and provinces from 11 countries in a subnational collaboration to protect forests, reduce carbon emissions, and promote sustainable development. The vote took place at the annual GCF meeting in Manaus, Brazil.

GCF 2022

After the vote, the governor of Morona Santiago, Rafael Antuni, addressed meeting representatives: “Morona Santiago, and the south-central Ecuadorian Amazon, will be with you. That forest of 11 million acres will be at the service and conservation of humanity.” Zamora Chinchipe’s governor, Cléver Jiménez also spoke to GCF members stating “The consequences of climate change are a problem that we are already experiencing locally, regionally and globally. For this reason, allow me to ask for and thank you for supporting Zamora Chinchipe as a member of this important initiative that seeks to conserve our natural places, which are being affected by human mismanagement.”

The two newly minted GCF member provinces then joined with their neighbor, Pastaza province to share the Amazonian Platform for Forests Climate and Human Wellbeing. The Amazonian Platform is a plan to protect and manage 11 million acres of intact continuous forest in collaboration with seven of Ecuador’s indigenous nationalities and Nature and Culture International, which is providing technical support coordinating efforts for the Amazonian Platform initiative

The Amazonian Platform was established in December 2017 by the six provinces of the Ecuadorian Amazon plus two consortiums of indigenous nationalities, the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Amazon of Ecuador (CONFENIAE). The Platform will support the implementation of national, provincial, and indigenous strategies to reduce deforestation (REDD+ Plans) in the Ecuadorian Amazon, mitigating climate change and preserving biodiversity.

In December 2021, the three current GCF members (Pastaza, Morona Santiago, and Zamora Chinchipe) signed an agreement to kick off implementation of Phase One of the Platform with the other three provinces, Napo, Orellana, and Sucumbios expected to begin active participation soon.

These three provinces will soon be able to access international funds to accelerate the implementation of the Amazonian Platform. “This is not only an opportunity to access funds but also an opportunity to accelerate a process of sustainable development in the Amazon,” said Bruno Paladines, project coordinator of Nature and Culture International.



Por unanimidad Zamora Chinchipe y Morona Santiago son parte del grupo de trabajo de Gobernadores para el Clima y los Bosques

El 16 de marzo, la provincia de Zamora Chinchipe se suma a Pastaza y a otros 37 estados y provincias internacionales que conforman el grupo de trabajo de Gobernadores Para el Clima y los Bosques (GCF), mientras que la provincia de Morona Santiago fue aceptada como miembro observador. Estas decisiones se dieron por votación unánime durante la Reunión Anual del GCF, “Bosques, Sociedad y Economía Verde: Nuevos modelos de desarrollo para el futuro del planeta”, que se celebra el 16, 17 y 18 de Marzo en Manaos Brasil.

El grupo de trabajo de GCF es una colaboración subnacional de 38 estados y provincias que trabajan para proteger los bosques tropicales, reducir las emisiones por deforestación y degradación forestal, y promover el desarrollo rural sostenible que mantenga los bosques. Esta red conecta a los estados y provincias con procesos que promueven la buena gobernanza ambiental; financiación verde; derechos territoriales y el bienestar de los pueblos indígenas y comunidades locales; y que promueven estrategias económicas sostenible y bajas en emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero.

En el evento anual del GCF, las provincias de Pastaza, Zamora Chinchipe y Morona Santiago, están visibilizando al mundo su propuesta interprovincial que pretende proteger y manejar, junto a siete nacionalidades amazónicas y la asistencia técnica de Naturaleza y Cultura Internacional, 4.5 millones de hectáreas de bosque continuo, el más grande conformado por Áreas de Conservación y Uso Sustentable Provinciales en Ecuador. Esta propuesta se enmarca bajo un mismo espacio de colaboración llamado “Plataforma amazónica para los bosques, el clima y el bienestar humano”.

La Plataforma Amazónica fue establecida en diciembre de 2017 por las seis provincias de la Amazonía ecuatoriana: Zamora Chinchipe, Morona Santiago, Pastaza, Napo, Orellana y Sucumbíos, junto con la Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica (COICA) y la Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonía de Ecuador (CONFENIAE), con el objetivo de generar oportunidades para la implementación de la Estrategia Nacional y las Estrategias Provinciales de Cambio Climático, REDD+ y REDD Indígena Amazónico (RIA), incluyendo estrategias forestales y de biodiversidad.

El 28 de diciembre de 2021, los prefectos de Pastaza, Morona Santiago y Zamora Chinchipe firmaron un acuerdo que marca una primera etapa de la Plataforma Amazónica. Más adelante se espera involucrar a las provincias de Sucumbios, Orellana y el Napo para que se sumen a estas estrategias de conservación, que promueve acciones que reduzcan las emisiones de CO2 por deforestación y degradación de los bosques y que conserven la diversidad cultural y biológica.

Durante la reunión anual del GCF, el prefecto de Morona Santiago, Rafael Antuni, se dirigió a los representantes de estados y provincias internacionales: “Morona Santiago, y el centro sur de la Amazonía ecuatoriana, estará con ustedes. Esa selva de 4.5 millones de hectáreas estará al servicio y la conservación para la humanidad”.

Por su parte, el prefecto de Zamora Chinchipe, Cléver Jiménez, agradeció a los miembros del GCF “las consecuencias del cambio climático, es un problema que ya lo estamos viviendo a nivel local y, regional y mundial. Por tal razón, permítame solicitar y agradecer su apoyo para que Zamora Chinchipe sea miembro de esta importante iniciativa que busca conservar nuestra naturaleza, que se ve afectada por el mal manejo de los seres humanos con nuestra casa grande.”

Con Pastaza y Zamora Chinchipe como miembros del GCF y Morona Santiago como observador (y próximamente miembro también), la propuesta interprovincial de proteger y manejar 4.5 millones de hectáreas en la Amazonía, podrá acceder a fondos internacionales que permitan acelerar su implementación y así convertirse en un ejemplo nacional e internacional de gestión interprovincial entre los GADs y pueblos y nacionalidades, por la conservación y el bienestar humano.

“Esta no es solo una oportunidad para acceder a fondos, sino que es principalmente una oportunidad para acelerar un proceso de desarrollo sostenible en la Amazonía”, aseguró Bruno Paladines, coordinador de proyecto de Naturaleza y Cultura Internacional.

La participación de los prefectos en el evento anual del GCF y la construcción de la Plataforma Amazónica se desarrolla con apoyo del Proyecto “Pueblos indígenas y sociedad civil en acción para proteger la Amazonía” apoyado por la cooperación Noruega.

The Amazonian Platform is a partnership linking local governments and Indigenous Nationalities to effectively manage large swaths of the Amazon rainforest.

The country of Ecuador is home to only about 2% of the Amazon rainforest, and yet the water from this location feeds the entire Amazon basin. Here, the provinces of Pastaza, Zamora Chinchipe, Morona Santiago and seven Indigenous nationalities from the Ecuadorian Amazon have begun to work together to show the world that deforestation and degradation of the largest rainforest on the planet can be reversed.  

The Amazonian Platform for Forests Climate and Human Wellbeing is a collaborative agreement among the six provinces of the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Amazon of Ecuador. In the first phase of this pact, three provinces are committing to effectively manage and protect 11 million acres of continuous forest (about twice the area of New Jersey), making up the largest biological corridor of continuous forest in Ecuador and sequestering 2.3 billion tons of carbon.  

Amazonian Platform

The collective effort between local governments and Indigenous nationalities comes at a critical moment, as threats to the Ecuadorian Amazon from deforestation, mining, agricultural expansion, and development increase daily. With technical assistance from Nature and Culture International, this unification of conservation efforts will set an example for an effective means of protecting more of the Amazon rainforest. 

On December 28, 2021, Nature and Culture International and the governors of Morona Santiago, Pastaza, and Zamora Chinchipe signed an agreement that advances the construction of the proposed “Amazonian Platform for Forests, Climate and Human Wellbeing” together with the Indigenous communities. The leadership of these three provinces decided to take a crucial step forward to combat climate change and advance the well-being of their population, based on both progress generated in the field of conservation and agreements made with local and Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities.

This union is a commitment to sustainably manage and protect the largest biological corridor of continuous forest in Ecuador in provincial conservation areas. It will generate opportunities for the implementation of a National Strategy and Provincial Strategies for Climate Change, REDD+ and RIA, including reducing deforestation, restoring degraded areas, implementing sustainable livelihood projects, and management of existing conservation areas, among other initiatives.

7 of the 14 Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon – Shuar, Achuar, Kichwa, Waorani, Sápara, Andoa and Shiwiar – these areas are currently protected within the subnational conservation system (as Provincial ACUS – Conservation and Sustainable Use Areas) and cover an area larger than all the protected areas within the National System of Protected Areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

This area is also home to an incredible biodiversity of life forms, distributed in 28 Ecosystems officially recognized by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment and Water, making it one of the most diverse places in the entire Amazon.

Nature and Culture has supported conservation and management efforts in Pastaza for over ten years.

In 2017, Nature and Culture helped establish the 6.2 million acre Pastaza Ecological Area of Sustainable Development in the central Ecuadorian Amazon region. Shortly after, we supported its participation in the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF); a subnational collaboration between 38 states, provinces, and regions from 11 countries to protect forests, reduce emissions, and promote sustainable development.

Since 2020, Nature and Culture International has worked with the Pastaza government to develop its first REDD+ Implementation Plan jointly with the seven Amazonian nationalities of the province.  The REDD+ Implementation plan sets sustainable management goals and opens the door for more climate funding to be sent directly to the region.

In 2021 Pastaza became the first provincial government in the Amazon region to have an Implementation Plan to Reduce Deforestation and Degradation of its forests, which was built together with the seven Amazonian nationalities of the province. 

Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago follow suit.

In 2018, with the help of Nature and Culture, Zamora Chinchipe declared a 1.1 million acre provincial protected area and is in the process of building its Implementation Plan to Reduce Deforestation and Degradation of its forests.

In 2021, the governor of Mornona Santiago signed an agreement with the Shuar and Achuar Indigenous nationalities to declare the proposed 2.5 million acres of Conservation and Sustainable Use Areas. This sets the stage for these two provincial governments to follow in Pastaza’s footsteps and implement REDD+ plans of their own. Soon, both Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago, will also be part of the GCF Task Force.

Nature and Culture International and Governors of central-southern Amazon sign proposal to collaborate with Indigenous organizations committing to manage and protect over 11 million acres of continuous forest.

On December 28, 2021, Nature and Culture International and the governors of Morona Santiago, Pastaza, and Zamora Chinchipe signed an agreement to begin building and implementing the proposed “Amazonian Platform for Forests, Climate and Human Wellbeing.” The idea behind the Amazonian Platform is to form a collaborative agreement between the governors of the Ecuadorian Amazon and indigenous organizations to promote strategies that reduce CO2 emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and conserve biodiversity. While originally conceived in 2017, three governors of the central-southern Amazon have now committed to take up and implement these strategies jointly and in alliance with the native peoples of the Amazon.


Earlier this month, a first-of-its-kind meeting took place in Morona Santiago, Ecuador. 

Nature and Culture International, along with the Governor of Morona Santiago, and representatives of the Shuar and Achuar nationalities gathered to design a groundbreaking joint initiative to save almost 2.5 million acres of intact Amazon rainforest. 

The group spoke openly about the threats of deforestation and mining, and how to address these issues. They also focused on facilitating indigenous land planning and management in order to empower these communities to continue to steward their ancestral territories as only they can. 

When their discussion drew to a close, each leader signed their name on a new agreement to create what will be one of the largest conservation areas in Ecuador. 

The proposed conservation area is mostly intact, mainly because it has been protected by the indigenous communities that call it home. This proposal will incorporate key measures for a sustainable future while respecting these communities’ traditional practices.  

“It is the first time that a prefect convened indigenous organizations to talk about conservation and build a joint proposal at the provincial level,” says Josefina Antonieta Tunki, president of the Shuar Arutam People. 

Achuar People

This community has been a steward of the forest for thousands of years, and they are all too familiar with the effects of deforestation and improper resource management. The new conservation area will implement these communities’ traditional practices as well as their newly proposed sustainability methods. 

At the meeting, the leaders of the Shuar and Achuar people spoke at length about the importance of regulating logging and mining in their territories. 

Amazon Forest Logging

Mining not only encroaches on indigenous settlements, but also contaminates the local water supply. The run-off leaves behind heavy metals which are found in fish, get ingested by people, and even end up in the atmosphere to pollute further reaches of the forest. 

Logging is a major issue because habitat loss in the form of deforestation is one of the leading drivers of extinction, and because the density of the forest is essential for sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. With commercial logging, agricultural expansion, new roads, and natural disasters affecting the Amazon more each year, these intact areas are more important than ever for regulating the effects of climate change. 

Once the new conservation area has officially been declared, the indigenous nationalities will work together with the government to set regulations for the sustainable use of the conservation area’s territories, particularly where extractive practices such as deforestation are concerned. Nature and Culture International will continue to collaborate with the indigenous nationalities and local governments, and we are looking to have the area fully established in 2022. The realization of this initiative will be a huge step forward in our efforts to mitigate climate change by protecting one of our planet’s most powerful carbon sinks. 

It is an ambitious goal, but Nature and Culture International saw success with a similar implementation plan that was approved earlier this year in Pastaza, Ecuador. Our experience collaborating with Pastaza’s local government and nationalities will serve as a roadmap to success in Morona Santiago as we race towards new, more sustainable horizons. 

Indigenous communities are the best defenders of carbon rich ancestral territories in the face of extractive activities such as mining and deforestation.

Indigenous people remain in small numbers all over the world. According to the FAOalthough indigenous groups only make up 5% of the world’s population, their territories contain more than 80% of the world’s biodiversity. Understanding that indigenous territories encompass such a large amount of the earth’s remaining biodiversity, is the first step to realizing how these frontline communities can be part of the management plan for the earth. 

What is climate change? 

Climate change has been a topic of interest for several decades, but at the end of October 2021, the COP26 (Conference of the Parties) in Glasgow propelled this issue back to center stage. Climate change is the result of Greenhouse Gases emitted into the atmosphere, most notably Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Methane (CH4). These gases are produced when burning fossil fuels, through large-scale livestock farming, and other big industrial processes. When these gases remain in the atmosphere, they prevent heat from escaping the earth and so cause a “Greenhouse effect,” causing the planet to warm. This increase may only be a few degrees, but these changes have disastrous consequences for the earth as weather patterns become unstable and wildlife struggles to keep up with rapid changes to their environment.   

It would be easy to believe that significant climate change mitigation can only come from behavioral and policy change from large industries and national governments. However, including indigenous people in the decision-making is crucial. 

Reserva Municipal Gonzalo Pizarro

Indigenous Peoples and climate change 

So, how does such a small population have such a dramatic impact on climate change? It’s actually really simple. Much of indigenous territory, especially the Amazon rainforest, is considered a major carbon sink. This means that these areas absorb carbon and reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, hence reducing the warming of the planet.  

Indigenous cultures and traditions are built around sharing nature’s resources rather than exploiting them. These communities depend on their natural environment, and protect their territories to secure their own survival. Indigenous Peoples work to maintain a symbiotic relationship by only taking what they need. This allows the ecosystem to replenish itself, and resources remain secure. Therefore, these vital territories are much more likely to be protected from extractive activities, such as deforestation and mining.  

We have a lot to learn from Indigenous Peoples and we will need to, if we are to have a chance at combatting climate change. In the Amazon rainforest, an area the size of a football-pitch is destroyed every minute, meaning less CO2 will be stored and removed from the atmosphere. By protecting forests and other ecosystems, indigenous communities are also protecting the world. This is the reason why having the unique and valuable insight of indigenous community leaders in the decision-making process is so important to secure the earth’s future. 

Outcomes of COP26

COP26 was the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, which aimed to address and to produce answers to slow, and even reverse climate change. Key outcomes from the COP26 for mitigating climate change included: 

  • 153 countries pledging to cut emissions by 2030. 
  • 91% of world’s forests to be protected under new initiatives by 137 countries. 
  • Speed up transition to electric vehicles. 
  • Reducing methane emissions. 

These were steps forward, but the conference was attended by many hoping for immediate action for a better future, and they left dissatisfied. A major criticism of the COP26 was the lack of presence from indigenous community leaders at the conference, who arguably know a lot more about the natural areas many countries are pledging to protect. 

Shwar community

Why are Indigenous Leaders a focus of COP26? 

Indigenous communities continue to fight for full ownership of ancestral territories, and policies that protect their rights. These rights have proven to decrease destructive practices such as deforestation. Indigenous Peoples can protect their land more effectively than anyone else, however, most funding goes to parks or conventional protected areas. Conflicting laws and policies still allow indigenous territories to be exploited.

Indigenous Peoples will need a lot more support if they are going to be able to conserve the earth’s most valuable territories. By sending indigenous leaders to COP26, there was hope that finally indigenous voices would be heard, and they could help protect their critical land and, in turn, the planet. 

The President of the COP26, Alok Sharma, encouraged indigenous leaders to attend the conference and be included in discussions, raising hopes that this conference would be more productive than previous ones. Indigenous leaders who were able to attend COP26 were, for the first time, in the zones where discussions took place instead of the general public areas. This meant they could talk to world leaders and be part of the conversation about climate change rather than watch from the sidelines. Leaders from the Arctic, the Americas and Caribbean were more represented than other groups, however, this was still not enough. Many indigenous leaders were not able to participate due to COVID-19 restrictions, visa complications and lack of funding to travel to the conference, meaning it was not a fully representative event. 

For the future of our planet, much more needs to be done to ensure that indigenous communities have their place at the table. There is so much ancestral knowledge and insight yet to be learned. If we can open opportunities for this small percentage of the population to show us how they have thrived for thousands of years, our planet may just have a chance.  

After 21 years of fighting for their land, VICTORY for The Shuar people!


In May of this year, we announced the titling of 14,021 acres of Tiwi Nunka Forest to the Shuar Kiim Center, a Shuar community otherwise known as the El Kiim. This titling has given the El Kiim the ability to protect this territory from threats, such as mining, clearing land for cattle ranching, and other detrimental extractive activities. This is great news for the El Kiim – they have been fighting for the title to their land for 21 years!

The Shuar have been working since 2000 to create a reserve area in their ancestral territory, which is highly important to the communities’ survival. Since 2005, we have worked with 3 Shuar communities to protect their ancestral forests: Kiim, Kurintsa, Washikiat. Here at Nature and Culture, our mission is to protect indigenous cultures and the biodiverse landscapes within these territories.

The Shuar people are an indigenous population in southern Ecuador who keep strong traditions and a unique vision of language, food, myths, music, and dance. The Shuar’s deep-rooted culture gave them abilities to read seasons in the forest. This allowed them to predict the best time to hunt, when fish would spawn, and when plants would bloom. Nature is at the heart of their society and their culture is based around techniques that are sustainable and protect their resources. Their religion is even based around the forest; the sacred waterfalls are their temples for their god “Arutam”, who can appear in many forms related to the forest, such as the wind, rain, or even a jaguar. These waterfall temples are also the location where they purify the spirits of their dead. Unfortunately, the culture and traditions that the Shuar have lived by for many years are being lost.

The El Kiim resides in the Tiwi Nunka Forest where the cultures and traditions that they value rely on the forest remaining healthy. The forest provides an important source of water, food, medicine, and other resources for the 33 families within this Shuar community. “We want to protect the forests of Tiwi Nunka because they hold our last resources,” says Marta Kayuk, President of the Shuar Kiim Center. This incredibly biodiverse habitat also safeguards important species, such as the threatened mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) and the vulnerable spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus).

Land title resolutions were enacted by the Ministry of Environment and Water of Ecuador on May 19, 2021. Photo by Claudia Roman.

Since we began supporting them in 2005, we have helped the El Kiim’s women to recover seeds and grow traditional gardens, cultivating plants such as yucca, plantain, papachina, papaya, and sugar cane. We have also worked to educate younger girls about the diversity of seeds and traditional cultivation techniques. The teaching of these practices ensures this knowledge continues to be passed down to future generations.

In 2008, the Tiwi Nunka was given Protective Forest and Vegetation Area status by the Ministry of Environment and Water of Ecuador. However, Ecuadorian law permits mining concessions for protected forests and so this status alone did not provide adequate protection. The threats to this ecosystem were still present, and so in 2019, we got involved to provide legal and technical support to the El Kiim to gain full titling of the forest. By legally gaining title to their land, they are better prepared to protect their territory.

We celebrate the news of the Shuar Kiim Center gaining ownership of the Tiwi Nunka Forest. We will continue to work with the El Kiim and other Shuar communities to ensure their territory is protected and their culture thrives.

We are grateful to all our donors who give us the opportunity to work with these indigenous communities and if you’re interested in supporting our work with indigenous communities, please consider making a donation today!

Nature and Culture International supports Pastaza in becoming the first province in Ecuador with an Implementation Plan for REDD+ Measures and Actions. This groundbreaking plan will serve as a template for others to replicate throughout the country and beyond.

On May 22, 2021, the Provincial Government of Pastaza officially received the Letter of Approval for the REDD+¹ Measures and Actions Implementation Plan of the Province. The letter was issued by the Ministry of Environment and Water of Ecuador (MAAE) as the National REDD+ Authority and will contribute towards national efforts to reduce deforestation and forest degradation through conservation, sustainable forest management, and the optimization of other land uses to reduce pressure on forests. Pastaza is the first province in Ecuador to obtain an Implementation Plan approved by MAAE.