Guyana: The native Wapichan people of Guyana proposed a plan to the Government of Guyana to protect more than one million hectares of pristine tropical forest. They are considering using GPS technology to map the forest region.
With the help of this technology people aim to preserve and protect the forest area from industries that could threaten its biodiversity and natural resources.
The territory’s rich variety of rainforests, mountains, wetlands, savannah grasslands and tropical woodlands are the homeland of 20 communities, who make a living from small-scale farming, hunting, fishing and gathering.
The local communities in Guyana are also vulnerable to land grabs and marginalisation because they lack secure legal title over much of their traditional lands.
The Wapichan people have responded to these threats by mapping their customary land use as part of a long-standing campaign to have their rights to their traditional lands legally recognised. The mapping project has been carried out by Wapichan communities under the leadership of their former and existing Toshaos (community leaders) who have been assisted by their own community-based organisations.
“Mappers from our own communities have used GPS technology to map the location of key livelihood, spiritual and cultural heritage sites that hold deep importance to our people and sustain our way of life,” said Kid James of South Central Peoples Development Association (SCPDA). “After ten years of painstaking work, we are very proud of the end result. We are now keen to share our territorial map with government authorities to show how we occupy and use the land according to custom and how we are attached to our territory.”