Güeppí Reserved Zone

On June 15, 2013 the Kichwa and Secoya received a visit from the Minister for the Environment, Vidal Pulgar, who had travelled to the Alto Putumayo area specifically to confirm the good news officially: after 15 years of silent struggle by FIKAPIR and OISPE, the Zona Reservada de Güeppí was definitively categorized as National Park and two Communal Reserves. The National Park GUEPPI-SEKIME, which enjoys the highest level of protection, and the Communal Reserves HUIMEKI and AIRO PAI, where the local inhabitants have gained more access to the natural resources, represent a total area of more than 592 700 ha of protected Amazon forest. At the well-attended ceremony in Soplin Vargas, the president of FIKAPIR, Demecio Tangoa Guerra, told the minister, however, that the indigenous organizations of the Alto Putumayo would continue to oppose oil exploitation on their territories. Oil block 117 presently overlaps with the National Park, the two Communal Reserves, and the native land of both FIKAPIR and OISPE. In the meantime, the indigenous leaders have called upon Putumayo vzw to assert their rights in this case, more specifically the right to consultation, by legal means if necessary.

The Alto Putumayo region is an exceptionally biodiverse area. In 1997 the Zona Reservada de Güeppí (ZRG) was created. A zona reservada is a provisional title granted to an area where further investigations need to be carried out to determine which kind of recognition it should receive as a natural reserve. In March 2006, the Kichwa and the Secoya communities reached an agreement (the Pantoja agreement) about the categorization of the nature reserve, which would be divided into two Communal Reserves or Reservas Comunales (RC Huimeki and RC Airo Pai) and one National Park (PN Güeppí). These different kinds of categorization determine the level of protection the areas receive, and the rules that apply in them concerning the use of natural resources. The agreement was signed after a process of consultations and negotiations with the native communities, which had taken many years, in accordance with the ILO convention 169, and is, in that sense, unique in its kind in Peru. 

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The Alto Putumayo region is part of one of the most biodiverse areas of South America: it harbours a rare variety of woods, fauna, flora and other natural assets. Furthermore, the area is an important freshwater basin. The importance of this border region in terms of its biodiversity has been recognized by Peru as well as Colombia and Ecuador, and the whole border area was declared protected nature area: Parque Nacional Natural La Paya (422 000 ha - Colombia - 1984), Reserva de Producción Faunística Cuyabeno (603 380 ha - Ecuador - 1979) and the Zona Reservada de Güeppí (625 971 ha - Peru - 1997), which, all together, represent a total area of more than 1.7 million hectares of protected area, spread across the three neighbouring countries. The Peruvian, Colombian and Ecuadorian authorities have undertaken various attempts to come to a viable cooperation agreement concerning the protection and sustainable management of this border area, but due to the lack of political will, these efforts have up to now all been in vain. The European Union has financed the project “Un paisaje integrado de conservación y desarrollo sostenible: fortalecimiento de un sistema regional de áreas protegidas y territorios indígenas en la cuenca tri-nacional del Río Putumayo”, implemented in all three countries by various organizations and NGOs (for Peru: WWF Peru, CEDIA, AIDESEP).


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