Latest news about the Collective, our fieldwork, experiences and learning

Rights of Wetlands Review

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The Rights of Wetlands Review is a working document that introduces Rights of Wetlands with selected examples of implementation across the world, and reviews the policy, legislation, governance, communication and management contexts of the five project countries – Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

Metro Colombo urban wetland status report

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The Metro Colombo urban wetland status report reviews the progress made since the Metro Colombo Wetland Management Strategy (WMS) was developed in 2016 to promote wise use and sustainable management of all wetlands within the Colombo Metropolitan Region.

Community’s right to grow

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Supporting community food growing has become an important mechanism for delivering our mission to empower communities. This video serves as a digital record to remind councillors and council officers of the needs and aspirations of the community and to make food growing an integral part of community life in Runnymede.

Sharing Indigenous crafting knowledge and skills

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Throughout Guyana, Indigenous craft practices are on the decline. As part of our National Geographic Society project on conserving nature and culture through Indigenous crafting in Guyana, we have been running week-long crafting workshops, bringing together Indigenous crafters and youth from across Guyana to share their knowledge, skills and experiences, and importantly, to make connections and links with like-minded people.

What is a Rights of Wetlands approach?

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Rights of Nature is gaining increased support as a solution, an approach that is consistent with many Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ views and increasingly championed by courts, legislatures and international institutions. A ‘Rights of Wetlands’ approach promotes a holistic strategy that protects the integral functioning of a wetland, including safeguards for its constituent species and beneficial human activities that support poverty alleviation.

Understanding Relational Values in Conservation Practices

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Dinda Prayunita is currently pursuing an MSc in Sustainable Development at KU Leuven. She has extensive experience in forestry and biodiversity conservation and has become increasingly interested in the social science domain to achieve better conservation outcomes. We invited Dinda to share some reflections on her research journey in this post.

Community food growing report

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The report 'Visual Storytelling about Community Food Growing' emerges from an investigation of the expansion of community food growing initiatives during the Covid-19 crisis. The Cobra Collective engaged community food growing participants and built their skills in digital visual storytelling to explore and promote their experiences of community food growing activities during the pandemic.

Radically hopeful cooperation in community food-growing

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In March-April 2022, the course on ‘Visual Storytelling about Community Food-Growing’ held its third and final instalment. Six participants of the cohort made engaging video stories; many more exchanged their experiences in the discussions. This post gives an overview of the insights gained, before introducing each story.

Remote working in participatory video – the UN Women experience

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The Covid-19 crisis forced many people to stay at home and work remotely. In this post, we ask what are the pros and cons of remote working in participatory video projects where face-to-face communication is extremely important? Is it still possible to involve and train groups coming from disadvantaged backgrounds remotely? What strategies and methodologies can be put in place to make sure that the participatory process is still inclusive?

Digital Storytelling about Community Food Growing Project: Second Insights from autumn 2021 course

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Visual stories developed through the Grassroots Visual Storytelling about Community Food-Growing’ course encompassed a diverse range of initiatives, many of them different than community gardens. The films give an inside view of how food-growing initiatives have dealt with participants’ difficulties and inspirations; they elicit diverse feelings, firstly from the storytellers themselves and then from those who have seen their visual stories.

“We feel at home” at the Calthorpe: Community garden volunteers share their experiences

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Screening short films made by participants in various community-gardens in London stimulated a discussion about volunteers’ experiences, especially getting to know different kinds of people, sharing their skills, feeling more healthy, and spreading cultivation more widely. These benefits had special importance during the Covid-19 pandemic when many people otherwise faced social isolation.

Community food growing helps build the future differently: An invitation to tell your visual story

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Starting in September 2021, we are recruiting a second cohort of participants for a collaborative digital-storytelling project organised in partnership with The Open University, Sustain and RISC. The autumn 2021 course will focus on how community food growing has built community resilience, as a potential means to bypass and contest the dominant agro-industrial model of food production.

Digital Storytelling about Community Food Growing Project: First Insights

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As part of the ‘Digital storytelling about group food growing’ project, participants in London and Reading have explored their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic in a ‘Grassroots Visual Storytelling about Community Food-Growing’ course which began in spring 2021.

Digital Storytelling about group food growing – Invitation to Participate

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Have you experienced benefits in your everyday life through group food-growing activities? Are you involved in community food growing and would like to share your story? Can you help us investigate how community food growing has helped people and groups to cope with the Covid-19 crisis?

Darwin Traditional Knowledge project participates in global biodiversity consultations

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The Second Global Thematic Dialogue for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework was held virtually between the 1-3 December 2020, while the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Consultations on Traditional Knowledge with Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities was conducted on 4 December 2020. The Darwin Traditional knowledge project participated in these dialogues as our main aim is to progress the level of inclusion, protection and respect of traditional knowledge in both policy and practice.

Indigenous Heritage 2020: Traditional knowledge directly supports conservation efforts

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It has been a delight to have shared several videos that have been produced through the on-going Darwin Initiative Traditional Knowledge in Conservation project here in Guyana. As you have seen, these videos showcase a wide array of the traditional knowledge and practices possessed by Guyana’s first peoples – Amerindians.

Learning lessons from integrated fire management in Venezuela

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As we start drawing together data and evidence from Indigenous fire management in Venezuela as part of the LANDMARC project, Collective member and project leader, Bibiana Bilbao, presents some thoughts to Diálogo Chino on what we have learnt so far, and the potential lessons for neighbouring countries such as Colombia.

Languages without borders

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International Mother Language Day (celebrated on the 21st February each year) is designated to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, and multilingualism. This year’s theme of ‘languages without borders’ highlights how cross border languages can promote peaceful dialogue and help to preserve cultural heritage. In Guyana we have 10 Indigenous languages. These are, in alphabetical order, Akawaio, Arecuna, Atorada (near extinct), Carib, Carolese, Falmouth Sign Language, Lokono (Endangered), Makushi, Patamuna, Taruma (near extinct), Wapichan, Wai Wai and Warrau.

Pilot training in traditional knowledge integration for local stakeholders in Guyana

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Aimed at representatives of governmental organizations, civil society groups/NGOs and Indigenous leaders, the course “Traditional knowledge integration for conservation and development” aims to build capacity of stakeholders, not only to be more knowledgeable of traditional knowledge, but also to better use traditional knowledge within their work.

Progress towards greater recognition and integration of traditional knowledge in Guyana

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This article talks about the Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan (TKNAP) which is intended to stimulate increased awareness, respect and appreciation of Indigenous peoples and increase efforts at the national level to integrate their traditional knowledge into national planning and decision-making in Guyana.

Hearing from community researchers – testimonials from the Darwin Traditional Knowledge project

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Peer researchers are recognised members of, and have kinship, ties, and alliances, with the Indigenous communities with whom research is taking place. They play a vital role in ensuring that the information collected is representative, respectful of different views and opinions, and that the research process is community owned. Here we hear from a few of them working in Guyana.

Mental health project kicks off in Guyana

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In collaboration with Guyanese communities and stakeholders, and funded by the British Academy, the Cobra Collective is participating in ARCLIGHT (‘Action Research Community Led Initiative Guyana Health Team’), an ambitious new research project which will develop, implement and evaluate a capacity building and intervention programme for addressing the challenges of mental health in Guyana. Guyana is consistently ranked within the top five countries in the world with the highest suicide rates.

Pantani Book – 33 Amerindian Tales from the North Rupununi, Guyana

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Pantani – pronounced ‘pan-duh-nee’ — means “stories” in Makushi, the language of the Indigenous peoples of the North Rupununi, Guyana. It is also the chosen name for a digital storytelling project, which took place between June 2014 and May 2015 with the help of local storytellers Lakeram Haynes, Grace Albert, Abigail Allicock, Kenneth Butler and Janissa Roberts. All stories were originally published online, on a blog called www.pantaniblog.org. This book proposes a selection of the best ones.

Engaging Communities to ensure Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC)

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Community engagement continues, as the Darwin Initiative project focused on the Traditional Knowledge and its role in Biodiversity Conservation, seeks to ensure a Free, Prior and Informed Consent process. Project team member Grace Albert shares her experience after completing Kanuku Mountains community visits.

Screening community videos with policymakers

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Over the past year, Indigenous communities in the protected areas of Guyana have begun making videos on the importance of traditional knowledge to these places. This video showcases the next phase of the project which involves analysing the videos and collating the information into short videos to be screened to policymakers in Georgetown.

The integrating of traditional knowledge into national policy project continues to touch communities

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Integrating Traditional Knowledge into National Policy and Practice is one-year into its community work. Communities that have already been trained are making their videos. Work scheduled to engage communities associated with other Protected Areas in the coming months. Very exciting!

Masakanarî Village: The Unexpected

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The Darwin field team recently visited the Wai Wai indigenous community of Masakanari in the Kanashen District. Full support for the traditional knowledge project was evident as community members participated in training and had a chance to engage their fellow community members through interviews as they practiced what they were learning about participatory video.

Community engagement in the North Rupununi, Guyana

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This video shows the first phase of community engagement in the Darwin Initiative funded project “Integrating Traditional Knowledge into Conservation in Guyana”. Focused on the North Rupununi communities associated with the Iwokrama Forest protected area, it highlights how involving young people as researchers in their own communities can increase understanding and value for the role and importance of traditional knowledge for conservation.

Reviewing global action plans for traditional knowledge

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Jennifer Rose, an intern at Royal Holloway University of London, spent January 2018 researching traditional knowledge policies worldwide. Jenny is greatly enthused by the potential of traditional knowledge in preserving cultural heritage and informing research. Her research found that there have been great efforts to protect traditional remedies and adopt low-cost sustainable initiatives in environmental management. However, policies are often too generic and simplify the complexities of traditional knowledge. This results in lack of enforcement or overprotection of traditional knowledge to the extent that researchers and communities themselves are prohibited from using it.

Traditional Knowledge in Guyana: Let’s talk about Wetlands!

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As we join the world in observing World Wetlands Day, let us reflect on the important role they play in supporting and maintaining healthy ecosystems that contribute to human health and well-being. We need to also recognizing the significant linkages of these unique ecosystems to the life of Indigenous peoples and their role in helping to protecting them through traditional and cultural activities.

Traditional knowledge challenges and community owned solutions

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Building capacity was not the only activity the local North Rupununi District Development Board team was engaged in during their visits to the communities of Apoteri, Rewa, Aranaputa and Fair View. The team also worked with community members to explore the challenges they believed they were facing when it came to their traditional knowledge.

Building capacity in participatory video in the North Rupununi

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Over the course of the last four weeks – 19th Nov to 16th Dec – the North Rupununi District Development Board project team, supported by Claudia Nuzzo of the Cobra Collective and Deirdre Jafferally of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, travelled to four communities to explore the challenges communities are facing with traditional knowledge and protected areas, and to build community capacity.

Getting Creative

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Claudia Nuzzo, participatory video expert from the Cobra Collective, joined the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) Darwin Team at Bina Hill, North Rupununi to work on their video and editing techniques before they head into the communities to begin community research and build local capacity.

Launch of Darwin Initiative project

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Working in Guyana, this project will address Aichi Biodiversity Target 18, incorporating traditional knowledge [TK] into biodiversity policy for poverty reduction, by 1) evaluating TK integration using case studies focused on protected areas management, 2) building institutional capacity in TK integration, and 3) developing a National Action Plan for TK.

Conversations on fire management

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A ‘Fire Management Week’, 11 -17 March 2017, in Brasilia, Brazil aimed to promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences on fire management among representatives of Indigenous peoples, quilombolas, and traditional communities in Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana, researchers, and public policy managers. The aim was to discuss the aspirations and expectations of Indigenous peoples and traditional communities on how to conduct fire actions within their territories.

Festival de cine: “Somos todos parte del ecosistema: la voz de las comunidades a través de la imagen”

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A film festival was held during the XI Venezuelan Congress of Ecology, from 11 to 12 November in Margarita Island, Venezuela. The festival allowed conference participants, mostly scientific experts in the field of ecology, to engage with the perceptions and socio-environmental realities experienced by local and Indigenous Latin American communities and the power of participatory video techniques developed by Project COBRA to identify community owned solutions.

“El valor de la integración del conocimiento local y científico en la investigación ecológica”

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“The value of the integration of local and scientific knowledge in ecological research” symposium was held under the framework of the XI Venezuelan Congress of Ecology, on November 10, 2015, in The Island of Margarita, Venezuela. The symposium aimed to gather the experiences of different research groups about the use of participatory methods and integration of local and scientific knowledge for the sustainable management of natural resources and maintaining the diversity of ecosystems.

Community owned solutions for fire management in tropical forest and savanna ecosystems

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This paper, available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, highlights how the complexities of community owned solutions for fire management are being lost as well as undermined by continued efforts on fire suppression and firefighting, and emerging approaches to incorporate Indigenous fire management into market, incentive-based for climate change mitigation.

Participatory and Intercultural Fire Management Network

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This report (available in English, Spanish and Portuguese) provides information of the activities that have been carried out during the first meeting of the “Participatory and Intercultural Fire Management Network” with regards to Indigenous fire management with researchers, government authorities and Indigenous representatives (60 participants in total) currently working on Indigenous fire management in Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana and the UK – this workshop took place over four days in July 2015 at the Parupa Scientific Station, Canaima National Park, Venezuela.

First meeting of the Participatory and Intercultural Fire Management Network

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Between the 8-11 July 2015, more than 60 Indigenous, institutional and academic representatives from Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana and the UK came together at the Estación Científica Parupa, with the support of the Comunidad Indígena Kavanayén, Gran Sabana, Venezuela.