It was an early morning start in the Peruvian Amazon. We were meeting with the team of the Association for Research and Integral Development (Asociación para la Investigación y el Desarrollo Integral, AIDER), to jointly undertake the long journey to visit the Callería community.
As we sailed down the rushing Ucayali River, the rainforest thickened on both riverbanks. Pink dolphins raced alongside the boat, a few herons rested on the logs that were floating close to the bank, while other bird species had already started their day fishing, flying and preening.
After almost two hours of travel, we reached the much smaller Callería River. At this point, the sounds of the forests increased considerably, as though the whole ecosystem had awoken to welcome us.
The Callería community is split into an urban area, an agricultural area, a hunting area and a forest area. About 50 families of the Shipibo-Conibo ethnic group live here, and they have their own language, although most of them also speak Spanish. The primary economic activities undertaken here are wood harvesting, fishing, and the sale of handicrafts, the latter being almost exclusively the responsibility of women.
In previous decades, community forest harvesting was carried out without any management planning. The inhabitants and other people outside the community focused on cutting down whichever tree species were most in demand among the timber traders of Pucallpa without restriction. As the years went by, they realized that it was increasingly difficult to find the required species. There was also a shortage of the bark used by women to dye their handmade textiles. It appeared as though the forest was giving them a strong and clear message.
Starting in 2000, the community began a process of analysis and developing a new, more sustainable approach to forest management. After five years of hard work and commitment, they became the first community concession to obtain FSC forest management certification. The learning and enhancement of the forest continues, allowing both the community and the forest to reap the benefits.
According to the new forest management approach, the concession is divided into various forest management units, and the community only harvests one unit partially each year with many hectares protected for conservation purposes. Besides timber harvesting, the women of the community use some of the tree bark to dye cotton and produce beautiful textile handcrafts.
Alfredo Rojas, community member: “Sustainable forest management brings us many benefits. We have improved our housing infrastructure, we generate jobs, we can be economically self-sufficient and, at the same time, we contribute to the conservation of the forest. Come to Callería, see how we work and our techniques. We are ready to share our experiences to collaborate with the world.”
FULL STORY | HERE