Documenting community owned solutions in the North Rupununi

posted in: News 0

In April and May, the NRDDB Darwin Team visited the North Rupununi villages associated with the Iwokrama Forest to begin documenting their community owned solutions for managing the protected area. Bernie Robertson, NRDDB Community Researcher reports on their activities.

During the trip, the team provided additional training to the community researchers in using transcripts to sort their videos. They also assessed progress made in making the three videos on traditional knowledge and protected areas. Following this, they began working alongside the community researchers and villagers to decide on and plan the Community Owned Solutions (COS) video to be documented in the villages.

The village of Apoteri decided to document the traditional practice of hunting. This is a seasonal activity that is very important to the community during the rainy season. With the fish scattered throughout the forest and savanna, protein is hard to come by unless the villagers hunt. At this time the animals are congregated on islands within the forest and easier to hunt. Villagers use old knowledge to identify the best sites for hunting and the quickest way to get there. These hunting practices are useful in ensuring food security during the rains and using traditional hunting methods ensure that animals are not overharvested.

The village of Rewa sees traditional farming as important to their everyday livelihoods which keeps the village together. The villagers said in their interviews that they do not cut large amounts of forest but rather have a custom of rotational farming – in this way they are able to keep the forest standing and can manage their forest resources and also keep their traditional practices intact.

Aranaputa has been practicing traditional timber harvesting for a very long time. They are using this knowledge to help bring income for their families and the village through a village forestry co-op. This activity is done in conjunction with the rules and regulations of the country’s Guyana Forestry Commission. In this way, families or timber harvesters are able to do reduce impact logging but more so the role of traditional knowledge plays a key role helping with species identification, seasons of harvesting and the beliefs that should be followed when in certain areas.

Fair View village which lies within the protected area has chosen to document how they have developed and implemented rules to manage their resources. They have made a choice to remain part of the protected area and understand the need to use and monitor their resources in a manner that is in keeping with their own conservation goals but also with those of the Iwokrama Forest. The village has a low population and keeps a simple way of life. The villagers have shown strong community involvement in being able to monitor and oversee that their resources are being used wisely. This has made the villagers understand how important their traditional knowledge and values are in maintaining and managing their resources.

We aim to be back in September, to further support the development of the COS videos and look forward to seeing how they progress!

Follow Jay Mistry:

Professor of Geography - Royal Holloway University of London

Jay has more than 22 years’ experience in teaching, researching and building capacity for natural resource management with local communities. Her particular interests include supporting local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation, local environmental governance, action research using participatory video and capacity building for natural resource management.