The Andoke de Aduche Indigenous Reserve in the Colombian Amazon is expanded, connecting it to the world’s largest rainforest conservation corridor
As the advance of the deforestation frontier increasingly threatens the Colombian Amazon, forests not designated as protected areas or under the control of indigenous peoples are exceptionally vulnerable, as they risk becoming the “tip of the spear” for degradation and eventual deforestation. One of these last large expanses of unprotected forest in the Colombian Amazon is located on the southeastern border of Chiribiquete National Park, the world’s largest tropical rainforest park and a UNESCO world heritage site. Chiribiquete is of crucial importance for global biocultural diversity, as it connects the Andes mountains, the Amazon rainforest, and the Guiana Shield, and is suggested to be home to indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. This previously unprotected forested area has been claimed by the Andoke indigenous people as an expansion area for their reserve to the south, the Andoke de Aduche indigenous reserve, established in 1988.
With support from the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), the Andoke de Aduche reserve was expanded today by 126,287 hectares, now totaling 188,466 hectares and connecting to a 10-million-hectare conservation corridor the size of Portugal. This expansion consolidates a biocultural corridor made up of national parks and the indigenous reserves of the Colombian Amazon including those of the murui-muinaɨ (Uitoto), féénemɨnaa (Muinane), and po’siɵ’hɵ (Andoke). This important achievement would not have been possible without the support of the Andes Amazon Fund and the Colombian government.
In 2017, ACT and its partner communities were able to achieve major expansions of other indigenous reserves that also lie on the southern border of Chiribiquete National Park, connecting the largest indigenous reserve of Colombia, the Predio Putumayo, with Chiribiquete. Of particular note is that this expansion of the Andoke de Aduche reserve is likely to be one of the last large indigenous reserve expansions in the Colombian Amazon, of which close to 55% is designated as indigenous territories and more than 20% designated as national parkland. With this expansion, ACT has formalized close to one million hectares of indigenous lands, amounting to almost half of all lands in Colombia titled to indigenous peoples in the last decade.
Also benefiting from this expansion are regional fauna. Studies carried out in the region reveal the presence of the giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) and the Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), both classified as endangered species by the IUCN. Vulnerable species such as the tapir (Tapirus terrestris) can also be found in the area. Numerous primates such as the Colombian red howler and the Spix’s night monkey (Aotus vociferans) make their home here as well. 355 bird species have been identified, among which the harpy eagle (Harpija harpyja), the largest and most powerful raptor found in the rainforest, is of particular note as its conservation requires extensive territories and because it has been extirpated from most of its northern range in Central America.
The Andoke people play a strategic role in area conservation and the control of deforestation drivers near Chiribiquete. The expansion of this reserve is crucial for the cultural survival of this vulnerable population and the protection of unique biodiversity. Equally important, the expanded reserve is located in the Araracuara region, an area with unique landscapes that are sacred to the Andoke and other indigenous peoples of the area. This ancestral land with its irreplaceable biodiversity is now protected for generations to come.
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