RI 31 COLOMBIA-PERU
Minutes away from Tarapacá, Colombia, an emerald landscape is shaped by the Putumayo River, its tributaries (Yaguas, Cotuhé) and many creeks. Their seasonal overflow creates a dynamic forest connecting places that are isolated during the drier months. To protect it, Colombia and Peru have created National Parks (Yaguas, Amacayacu and Río Pure) and titled Indigenous people land (known as resguardos indigenas in Colombia, comunidades nativas in Peru) in the area.
Over 5000 people primarily living off the forest, from the Ticuna people, to Indigenous people who fled violence in the early 1900s, to more recent colonists like soldiers’ families and the israelitas (a religious sect). All are connected through activities where the borders are determined by the seasonality of the rivers, and are threatened by illegal activities like mafias, coca, timber and mining that operates far from the reach of law, and creates pressure on the well-being of inhabitants and the forest.
The long-term integrity of the Bajo Putumayo-Cotuhe-Yaguas region depends on a coordinated strategy among all actors and countries, that must be inclusive and holistic, and grounded in a vision of dignified life for all human inhabitants—Indigenous people, non-Indigenous settlers, campesinos, Israelitas—in a vibrant landscape of healthy forests, rivers, and streams that sustain, for the long term, some of the richest plant and animal communities on the planet.
Photo by Álvaro del Campo