Indigenous communities themselves develop and change. Helping to support these communities in their patterns of regenerative building is the highest priority of the AAC.
Four Indigenous Nations with title to millions of acres of ancient rainforest and Andes Amazon Conservancy (AAC) are collaborating for the conservation of landscape-scale connectivity that will reunite the Andes and Amazon, safeguarding ancient wildlife migrations. This 175-mile long, 6-million acre Indigenous-planned and implemented eco-cultural corridor is a new model for conservation in an era where 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity is in Indigenous territories. Contiguous habitats in the Ecuadorian Andes-Amazon region are necessary for maintaining and sustaining the region’s increasingly endangered biological diversity.
Defending the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations is paramount for the continued survival of the largest roadless rainforest remaining in Ecuador. AAC brings legal support, training and technology to communities that are implementing their own conservation land-use planning. As communities make choices about where and how they want to create planning districts, these choices are reflected in iterations of community maps that are continually evolving. Indigenous oral governance processes are the means by which all conservation and community land-use planning decisions are made.
Indigenous-led conservation of eco-cultural corridors is successful, scalable, and urgently needs to be applied in many of the world’s remaining functional ecosystems.
The 100 million year relationship between the Andes mountains and the Amazon rainforest is the reason this region holds the planet’s highest biodiversity. Responding to alternating glacial and warming epochs, a vast flow of wildlife migration between the Andes mountains and the Amazon basin fuels evolution and increases biodiversity. During warming periods, entire forest communities migrate up into the cooler micro-climates of the Andes foothills. In glacial epochs, these forest communities migrate over thousands of years down to the warmer lowlands of the Amazon basin.
In the last 60 years, population and development pressures have created a 2,000-mile-long “development wall” along the eastern base of the Andes. Roads, towns, and clear-cut agriculture have nearly severed all essential migration pathways between the Amazon and the Andes.
The AAC collaboration project area is over 95% roadless rainforest and stretches for 175 miles from low steamy wetlands up to cool andean forests. Once complete, this eco-cultural corridor will conserve the most ecologically diverse and resilient landscape yet to be protected in South America.
It is vital to collaborate with local Indigenous Communities to conserve the ecological integrity of transitional landscapes between the Andes and the Amazon. Integrating Indigenous traditional knowledge with modern technologies and conservation land-use planning strengthens biodiversity and wildlife populations while simultaneously planning for 100 years of human population growth.
Wildlands conservation and community land use planning are a single harmonized process.
We are humbled by the number of neighboring Indigenous Communities that want to get involved with this participatory land-use planning process. As adjacent Communities see the positive effects of collaborating with AAC, they initiate contact, and our relationship web grows. Word of our work is spreading from village to village and nation to nation.
The community land-use planning fieldwork is run by an entirely Indigenous staff of 135, with administrative and technical support provided by a handful of Ecuadorian office staff (Indigenous and Mestizo) and one North American who specializes in the intersection of ethnoecology, land-use planning and wildlife migration. AAC’s staff is 96% Indigenous and based in Ecuador.
Because of the ongoing threats to Indigenous peoples in Ecuador and around the globe, our staff has asked that we not publish their names or photographs. We look forward to the day when we can celebrate every Indigenous team member with a full bio on our website, but respect their wishes and hold their safety and security in highest regard.