Indigenous Peoples Day: New video shows impact of WLT-backed project to return land to the Guaraní SEARCH NEWS

The short film by Marcelo Viñas opens a window into the life of Guaraní communities after they regained ownership of their ancestral land in Argentina in 2012, with help from donations from WLT supporters. Credit: Timbó Films Documentales

Nine years ago, World Land Trust (WLT) finalised an agreement that our co-founder John Burton described as “probably the most important land purchase WLT will ever make”. The creation of the Emerald Green Corridor in Argentina’s Misiones Province saw over 9,000 acres (3,600 ha) of ancestral land returned to the Indigenous Guaraní people. As we learn in a new video from filmmaker Marcelo Viñas of Timbó Films, this achievement has proved pivotal for the Guaraní and “inaugurated a new way of carrying out private conservation in Argentina”.

The ground-breaking nature of this agreement lies in the Multicultural Alliance formed between government officials, Guaraní representatives, WLT representatives, and the former landowner who sold it back to these Indigenous people. WLT played a significant role in the talks, both directly and through the hiring of professional negotiator Javier Jiménez. From that point on, the ownership of the land by the Indigenous Guaraní was enshrined in land deeds, and the forest that they rely upon for so much – not just food and medicine, but also their culture and identity – finally received official protection.

Now, thanks to the work of Marcelo (who is a permanent close collaborator our partner Fundación Biodiversidad Argentina or FBA), we have been given an insight into the profound impact that WLT supporters have made through this project, over the years. Thanks to Kiki Ramírez and Vasco Baigorri – members of religious group EMIPA, who also played a significant role in negotiations – Marcelo was welcomed into the Guaraní communities of the Emerald Green Corridor (also known as Lote 8). In Marcelo’s intimate footage, we meet community members like Patricia, Rafael, María, Lidio, Artemio, Lucinda and Paraí, whose deep connection to the land is evident in their daily routines.

For Marcelo, it soon became evident that the Guaraní “way of life is inextricably linked to the protection of nature”. In the Lote 8 video, we learn that the Alto Paraná Atlantic Forest is “the great school where the Guaraní children learn the material foundations of their culture”. The great number of plant and animal names derived from the Guaraní language points again to their deep understanding of the natural world. Less than 7% of the Alto Paraná Atlantic Forest remains, but the protection of Lote 8 has contributed greatly towards the protection of its rich biodiversity – including Jaguar, Harpy Eagle and Giant Anteater – as well as the Guaraní’s sustainable land-use traditions.

By connecting Argentina’s Moconá Provincial Park with Turvo State Park in Brazil, Lote 8 brought a major expansion to the swathes of protected land in this area in the Argentina-Brazil border. To the Guaraní, this brings benefits of an interconnected ecosystem that, thanks to WLT supporters, continues to thrive to this day. Formal ownership means land is secure for the future for these communities, which are being supported in conservation tasks by our partner FBA.

WLT have long believed that land is best protected by those who know it best. Recent research has confirmed this: compared to other areas, biodiversity is highest and declining less rapidly on Indigenous-managed lands.

We are heartened to see that the Guaraní way of life remains strong and vibrant in Lote 8. Marcelo’s documentary shows us that these stewards of the land will work in harmony with the Alto Paraná Atlantic Forest for many years to come.

WLT supporters like you can find much to be proud of in this story. The Emerald Green Corridor project has been recognised for its innovative approach to conservation that supports both biodiversity and Indigenous rights. We look forward to delivering new wins for Indigenous peoples together!

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