Working with local communities in South America
The COBRA Project – ‘Community Owned Best practice for sustainable Resource Adaptive management in the Guiana Shield, South America’ – is being funded by the European Union and is being delivered by a partnership of institutions: Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development (Guyana); Institute for Environmental Security (Netherlands and Belgium); IUCN NL (Netherlands); Equipe de Conservacao da Amazonia (Brazil); Politecnico di Torino (Italy); WWT Consulting (UK); Royal Holloway, University of London (UK); and Open University (UK).
These partners met recently with indigenous community representatives from the rainforests, savannas and wetlands of Brazil and Guyana, who had travelled to London to start the project. COBRA is funded for three years and aims to address the key issues facing local communities and biodiversity conservation across the Guiana Shield Region of South America.
The Guiana Shield is an area five times the size of Spain and conservation of the region is of great importance in the global battle against climate change as it sequesters and stores vast amounts of carbon dioxide. The region also contains 10-15% of the world’s fresh water reserves and an extremely rich diversity of plants and animals, most of which are unique to the region. Most importantly, the region is still largely inhabited by thriving indigenous communities, whose knowledge and skills are indispensable for proper conservation of the region and a great asset to world culture.
A sustainable management plan for the North Rupununi in Guyana was developed between 2003-2008. You can see our case study for that project here. Project COBRA aims to build on this success through engagement with local indigenous populations to recommend the most effective ways for foreign funding to implement real protection for the environment as well as its people.