A gathering of around 50 indigenous Aguaruna-Huambiza communities invited Cool Earth’s news editor to visit them in Amazonas, a northern Peruvian rainforest region, to learn more about carbon credits.
They were eager to learn more about the potential that the new forest carbon markets could offer them in terms of a long term source of funding which they could invest in their own sustainable development. These same communities suffered violent attacks by Peruvian police in 2009 when they were protesting against the intrusion of oil and mining companies into their territory without prior consultation by either the companies or the national government.
The Aguaruna-Huambiza have a reputation as brave warriors who say exactly what they think and are prepared to do whatever is necessary to defend their land and families. The communities’ leaders are known as “Apus”; they wear double strands of seed- beads across their chests, red and yellow coloured headdresses and carry sharp looking hardwood lances as a symbol of their power and authority. The women are less out-spoken but welcomed Cool earth’s news editor, Dilwyn Jenkins with endless bowls of manioc beer. As a people, the Aguaruna-Huambiza are both healthy and attractive looking. Their were also an unusual amount of babies and young children in the communities.
At the start of the 20th century, their territories were pretty well closed to outsiders. The invitation to visit them and explain a little about the carbon forest market came from the Apu Ambrosio, one of the leaders of the Aguaruna-Huambiza Council of Elders who had come across Cool Earth’s work with the Asháninka tribe of southern Peru and immediately saw the potential for his indigenous forest-owning nation.
Over two hot days, Dilwyn was able to describe the achievements to date with the Asháninka and discuss specific needs for the development of sustainable agriculture, forest management and other related outputs, such as the marketing of indigenous crafts, like seed jewellery. The leaders readily understood both the issues and the potential. They cheered loudly in appreciation of Cool Earth’s efforts to work hand-in-hand with Peru’s generally marginalised rainforest communities.
The Apus invited Dilwyn and his Peruvian team to return as soon as possible to present a longer, more detailed workshop on the processes required for them to participate in the international carbon forest market. The rainy season in this part of Peru lasts until April or May, but Cool Earth and the Aguaruna-Huambiza hope to meet again in February or March.