Paraguayan indigenous community goes digital to protect ancestral lands

Paraguay – Rumilda Fernández’s indigenous community has prolonged tended its ancestral lands in Paraguay, marking boundaries with an historic system of names for timber and streams. Now, squeezed by deforestation and farming, the community goes digital to defend itself.

Fernández, 28, is doubtless one of many group’s first technology-equipped forest screens, traversing the slim earthen tracks of the Isla Jovai Teju community’s land to map the realm with a smartphone app and GPS.

The work is a matter of survival for her Mbya Guaraní ethnic group. Their lands have been encroached on over time by enormous surrounding plantations of soybeans and maize inside the South American nation that is grappling with widespread deforestation.

“The forest was our supermarket and we did not need anything more. Now with the clearing, everything has changed,” community chief Cornelia Flores, 60, suggested Reuters.

“Before, we did not know how many hectares our land was. Now we have the map and the actual size,” Flores added.

The tech push is part of a endeavor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, teaching eight indigenous youths from 4 Mbya communities inside the district of Caaguazú, about 125 miles (200 km) east of the capital Asunción.

The screens take photos using a cellphone app of pure landmarks, tagging them with ancestral phrases resembling “yvyra pyta”, “guajayvi” or “ygary.” These components routinely populate a map to outline the borders of the terrain.

“It was easy to learn, though the technology element was tougher for me,” acknowledged Fernández, who had on no account used a laptop or a GPS (worldwide positioning system) sooner than.

The Mbya leaders contemplate incorporating know-how will help them protect lands that beforehand have been occupied by large-scale producers or farmers, preserving forests as a vital provide of meals and medicinal crops.

Loss of land and pure belongings is a painful drawback for the indigenous people of Paraguay, who symbolize 2% of the nation’s complete inhabitants. The loss has been cited by consultants as considered one of many main causes 75% of them dwell in poverty or extreme poverty, in accordance to official info.

Paraguay’s Minister of Social Development Mario Varela suggested Reuters impoverishment stemmed from the marginalizing of indigenous people who “had never been included, nor their original culture respected” in Paraguayan society.

“The problem for the indigenous is that we have been in Paraguay for 500 years and they have never helped us,” acknowledged Teófilo Flores, chief of the Pindo’i community of 750 people in Caaguazú.

“We need to know how to preserve the forest that remains as a reserve. For example, giving us the tools and support so that we ourselves also don’t deforest the lands,” he added.


Paraguay is cut up into two main areas: a giant house with industrial farming inside the east that has put pressure on forest land, and Chaco, a livestock house the place clearing is allowed beneath positive circumstances and the place oversight is often lax.

The nation has misplaced virtually 2,000 sq. miles (500,000 hectares) of native forests inside the japanese space since 2004, official info reveals. That was the 12 months when a “Zero Deforestation Law,” supposedly stopping the mass chopping of woodland, was authorised.

Cristina Goralewski, president of the nation’s National Forestry Institute, acknowledged part of the problem was endemic corruption that meant illegal logging went unchecked. She hopes the utilization of know-how and reliable info will change that.

President Mario Abdo, who took office closing 12 months, has beforehand acknowledged authorities corruption and pledged “zero tolerance” for officers found accountable of graft.

“We know that there’s ingrained corruption that supports this excessive deforestation,” acknowledged Goralewski, a 28-year-old engineer. She recognized that in 5 years authorities had solely stopped 20 autos with timber from illegal logging.

“The priority for the government is to stop illegal deforestation in the eastern region and use technology for that because we see that the controls are just not working.”

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