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Written by ABOFOA   
Thursday, 27 October 2011 02:01

 


Logo of the association with the native poison frog



The tour in the Pacaya Samiria, doing stump monkey surveys working with

the people of PMT, was now underway. But the leader of his team was still low so

the work would be delayed until, no fixed date.  I then remembered an offer Hugo

Vazquez had made a few weeks ago when I was giving training to the guards of the Alto

Mayo Protected Forest. Hugo was then working as a bricklayer in the construction

of the visitor center where I stayed that week. We learned that in his village, Pucacaca,

had formed an association of farmers for the conservation of tropical dry forest.

Hugo had been president for some years. They were very excited to carry

out the project, although very little had been achieved. Finally, the state gave their

association what is called a "conservation concession," for  a forest of about 2500 hectares,

named "Ojos de Agua", or "Eyes of Water."

 


 


The Association for the Future Forest Ojos de Agua (ABOFOA) was created by the local farmers

to conserve forests in their area. Hugo told me their "ecological awakening" in this way.

One day watching a Discovery Channel documentary, as he listened to talk about

the deforestation of tropical forests and the problems that entails, he realized that they

were next door to a publicly owned forest also being lost. In this region of Central Huallaga,

open to the massive colonization of Peruvian migrants decades ago, the ownership of land

has been undergoing changes over time. Today is agreed that what is not entitled, i.e.  by a

private deed, is owned by the state. But with the arrival of more people, that kind of land

was invaded daily by anyone. People may be burning, logging and making their farms there.

People were coming to hunt, to destroy the natural timber resources, even or buying illegal timber. 

 



In this way, and for the past few decades with the construction and improvement of the Marginal

Forest Road, the Central Huallaga region has one of the highest indices of rapid

deforestation in Peru,  or known in the world. What I find most admirable in the members ABOFOA

this is how they realized it was they who had to began to fight to leave for their children, the forests

they had known in their glory as they used to say. True, they once helped deforestation and hunting

for some time to settle there, but this should now strike a balance, if it was to keep the remaining

forest areas and repeat the process of transformation to end all resources. His career began in

2003 and since then ABOFOA has overcome many obstacles. The timber mafia and the land

speculators who used this land illegally, they would not willingly accepted the plan of this group

of local people.

 

 


The association members received death threats and the board of the association was legally charged

with crimes invented to intimidate them. The paradox was that they had never received any warning

from the authorities over their illegal activities in the forest, were the accused who defended him.

Collusion was evident that they had with local authorities and, knowing that Peruvian justice

can be bought without any shame.

The prosecution asked for 8 years in prison and heavy fines for each of the members of the board

of the Association. Only when they received the support of several influential environmental organizations

and the case was picked up by the media, did they manage to get acquitted. It took two years of trials.

but with a huge emotional and economic attrition.

 



Posted by Cesar Mª Aguilar

 

- - - -

 

NOTE: (by RV) I don't see how they went through it all.  They are just poor farmers.  When I came down

there in 2009, it must have been a total change for them to have a person, a retired biology teacher

from America, come, not to cause them more problems, but because the forest they saved was worth

real study. (and to be their friend)


 

Last Updated on Monday, 31 October 2011 02:10