The Amazon forest is the largest expanse of tropical forest on the planet, the source of 20% of the world’s freshwater, and a refuge for more than 40,000 species of flora and countless species of fauna. This corner of the globe has been conserved thanks to the work of 370 indigenous groups who have protected and safeguard the continuity of its ecosystems for more than 10,000 years.
In Colombia, it corresponds to 42.42% of national land surface, inhabited by 62 different indigenous groups. Gaia Amazonas Foundation, during its 20 years of existence, has helped them to maintain their culture, traditions and autonomy so that they can carry out their own processes and can govern and conserve their territories in accordance with their rights, which are established in the National Constitution and government policies. It supports the indigenous people in having an effective dialogue with municipal, departmental and national authorities.
Thanks to these efforts, there are now 185 indigenous resguardos that occupy a surface area of 26,217,159 hectares, the equivalent of 54.18% of the country’s total Amazon territory. Nowadays the Amazon indigenous people develop local projects that enable them to solve their own problems; they are organized into Associations of Traditional Indigenous Authorities (AATIs) in Amazonas, Vaupés and Guainía; and they participate in the negotiation of public policies, among other activities.
This history has been woven since the 1970s and was consolidated two decades ago when the organization was founded. According to Martín von Hildebrand, Director and leader of Gaia Amazonas Foundation:
“These 20 years of Gaia Amazonas are more valid than ever because we are currently seeing tangible results. With the creation of indigenous resguardos and natural parks, a dialogue has been established for the conservation of the Amazon in the hands of those who know how to care for the territory: the indigenous people”.
For its work, the foundation has counted on the support of international organizations that nowadays see the Colombian Amazon as an international model of development and an example of indigenous cultures having a voice and vote in building movements for the defence of their territories.
At this time, when the world is becoming conscious of climate change and the debt from mistreating the environment, this type of process becomes an important reference point. A review of the most important moments that led to the foundations of the organization that put the Amazon on the national and international agenda: Gaia Amazonas Foundation.