Shawi Escalera Reserve

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Shawi Escalera Reserve

For centuries, the indigenous Shawi nation has lived in Peru’s Paranapura basin, their ancestral homeland. Now, we are helping them obtain official recognition for their ancestral homeland as a protected area.

IMG_0116We are partnering with the Shawi nation and the regional government of Loreto, Peru to protect more than 370,000 acres of incredibly diverse but highly threatened foothill rainforest in the Paranapura basin in Peru’s Amazon. This area contains elements of both lowland Amazon rainforest and high-altitude Andean cloud forest, making it exceptionally rich in species.

This area is both a high-priority area for biodiversity and an important watershed for the inhabitants of the Mayo and Paranapura river basins that include the indigenous Shawi nation who lived here as their ancestral homeland. Its lush forests and jagged mountains hold countless undiscovered species that could yield medical and agricultural products. Now, we are working with the regional government of Loreto and the Shawi to obtain official recognition for their ancestral homeland as a protected area.

In recent years, the ancestral home of the Shawi nation has begun to see a tragic transformation. New colonization of the area has brought illegal logging, slash-and-burn farming, and oil and gas exploration. Without immediate action, the rich biodiversity of the region, and the vibrant cultural traditions of the Shawi people face ruin.

The head of the Shawi Federation, Segundo Pizango, along with the communities he represents, are taking the initiative to put a stop to the devastation of these ancient forests. In conjunction with Nature & Culture and with the support of other indigenous groups in the Amazon, the initiative for the conservation of the Shawi communal territory will protect the forest that is the basis of their existence and the wellspring of their cultural identity.

In August of 2012, representatives of the national and regional governments of Peru, Nature & Culture, and 26 Shawi communities met and agreed to strongly support the new conservation initiatives – many traveling several days by boat and foot through the rainforest to attend. “How will our culture survive – how will our children and grandchildren survive – if we don’t take action?” asked Cecilia Pizango, a Shawi leader.