The Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in the dense and precipitous Southern Peruvian Amazon is home to a unique and rich ecosystem, as well as being the ancestral territory of three different indigenous nations, Harakbut, Matsigenka and Yine who now live in and around the Reserve and its buffer zone. The communities are working with SERNANP (National Natural Protected Areas Service) to patrol the Reserve and gather evidence of any illegal activities or impacts within it, through the mechanism ECA-RCA. The area is particularly at threat from gold mining, which destroys and pollutes water systems, and from colonists making inroads into the Reserve for settlement and agriculture.
ECA-RCA has been working with Digital Democracy since 2018 to build and strengthen the community patrol and monitoring system, which previously relied on monitors and park guards taking GPS points and filling in paper forms. In June 2019 the system switched to Dd’s Mapeo platform, which local land defenders are now using. They are looking for ways to further improve their new digital system and integrate it with the tools used by park rangers for tracking conservation data and monitoring activities impacting the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve.
ECA-RCA’s community driven process:
- Community monitors go on scheduled patrols into the Amarakaeri Reserve and buffer zone with park rangers to designated sectors.
- Monitors carry mobile phones installed with Mapeo Mobile to take photos and record any illegal activities or impacts they encounter.
- Mapeo is loaded with a customised offline base-map of the reserve indicating the location of any known activities, and the boundaries of mining concessions and the reserve.
- Customised questions and categories have been created to ensure each observation includes important data required by communities and for reports sent to authorities.
- Upon their return from a patrol, monitors syncronise the data they have collected with the monitoring coordinators using Mapeo Desktop, who can filter it and create monitoring trip reports.
- Impacted areas and illegal activities are reported to the national park authorities to act upon.
ECA-RCA monitors like Mapeo because it is simple to use and to teach monitors to use, and collects actionable evidence. They have control over the data, and can choose what to share with the State. They hope that it will enable their monitors to go on patrols without the State park guards, and are looking for recognition of their land defense system to ensure its long term sustainability and in order to share their learnings with indigenous peoples in other co-managed areas in Peru.