From Nov. 5-25, 2019, the Field Museum led the thirty-first rapid biological and social inventory, this time in the Lower Putumayo region of Peru and Colombia. The inventory was the second binational inventory the Field has led, and it was designed to contribute to the consolidation of the Putumayo Corridor, a mosaic of protected areas, indigenous territories, and other management regimes that sustain immense cultural and biological diversity along the Putumayo—the only free-flowing Amazonian tributary. The inventory team was composed of nearly 40 natural and social scientists, protected area staff, indigenous leaders, and other key local stakeholders, representing 20 different institutions from Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and the U.S. This was truly a collective effort, which we built together in the months prior to the inventory through two pre-inventory visits in July and September, and carried out together during fieldwork. The natural science team conducted surveys at four camps—one in Peru and three in Colombia. They generated important information about the conservation of the buffer zone of the newly created Yaguas National Park in Peru, a private selective-logging forestry concession in Colombia’s Forestry Reserve, an indigenous reserve (the Cotuhé Putumayo Indigenous Reserve) in Colombia, and the northern portion of Colombia’s Amacayacu Natural National Park. They recorded more than 1,000 species of plants and 706 species of vertebrates. They recorded two fish species and one lizard species that are potentially new to science, nine new plant species for Peru or Colombia, new Colombian records of two frog species, as well as abundant and diverse populations of mammals and birds. The social inventory brought together a diverse set of stakeholders to discuss their common identities as inhabitants of the Putumayo, their collective strengths, and the challenges and threats they have in common.
The social team visited two indigenous federations in Peru, two indigenous reserves (resguardos) in Colombia, and a range of social and productive associations near the Colombian town of Tarapacá. At the end of the inventory, they organized a three-day binational encounter with participants from all of the groups previously visited individually. This was a space where diverse people from this complex, remote region that has been historically neglected by governments, could meet each other, find common ground on which to collaborate, and address tensions and differences in vision, all with the goal of sustaining the stewardship of this landscape and the wellbeing of the population. Both teams met in Leticia, Colombia, at the end of fieldwork and spent a week preparing the preliminary report. While in Leticia, we also had the chance to present to a World Bank working group called Amazon Sustainable Landscapes that is developing an international project for the Putumayo. We also presented our preliminary findings in Tarapacá on November 25 th , in Leticia on December 4th, in Bogotá on December 5th , and in Lima on December 6th. We are currently preparing the final report, which will be published by the end of 2020. We are also working with partners to follow up on the recommendations that came out of the inventory.