Fifth anniversary of the indigenous land management policy

Indigenous and socioenvironmental organizations, together with National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI) held a seminar in Brasilia to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the National Policy for the Territory and Environmental Management of Indigenous Lands (PNGATI). The Brazilian Education Institute (IEB), a local USAID Implementing Partner, supported the coordination of the event, which took place in early October.

The seminar created a forum to discuss the challenges facing the implementation of the PNGATI in the Amazon at a time when government support is diminishing and the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI) has suffered severe budget cuts. According to Sonia Guajajara, Executive Secretary for the Coordination of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil (APIB), “our political context is very unfavorable toward the implementation [of the PNGATI policy] right now, and we lack funding and direct support”. Yet, she celebrated the process of having approved an Integrated Management Plan for PNGATI and a few Territory Management Plans.

The PNGATI is considered a model for engagement. Founded on indigenous advocacy and discussions brought forward by indigenous peoples and civil society, the policy was created in 2012 by a decree signed by the then President Dilma Rousseff.

Umanary Apurinã, is a tribal chief in the Camicuã Indigenous Land, in the southern area of the state of Amazonas. He has been participating in the PNGATI awareness raising exercises in the villages “so that people understand what it stands for, and how it was created”. This is one of the activities driven by Nossa Terra, the project supported by USAID and implemented by IEB in Southern Amazonas state. The Camicuã Indigenous Land has advanced with its the ethnic territorial mapping and is awaiting recognition at municipal and state level. “They do not recognize how serious our work is”, explains Umanary, who believes that local and state governments do not provide resources because they do not understand the extensive work that is required to develop a Territory Management Plan.

The municipality of Boca do Acre, where Camicuã is located, has the third largest cattle herd in the state. During the mapping of that Indigenous Territory, three more sustainable value chains were identified: Brazil nuts, cocoa, and açaí berry. The most distant villages within Camicuã, which hosts nearly 3,000 indigenous people, are those with the highest potential. They are located 12 to 24 hours by boat from the town of Boca do Acre.

Besides trying to attract the attention of public authorities to the economic potential offered by Camicuã and the strengths of Territory Management Plans, the main problems they face are invasions from outsiders and illegal timbering, hunting and fishing.

Francisco de Souza Jamamadi lives at the border between the states of Amazonas and Acre, in a village within an Extractive Reserve (Aripixi). In 2016, with the support of the IEB, indigenous people and those involved in extractive activities developed an integrated Territory Management plan, which has not yet been formally approved. Umanary and Francisco believe that the next step to further develop these value chains, will be to access markets and adjust the role of intermediaries. USAID-funded projects are working to strengthen these kinds of activities in several indigenous territories across the Amazon.

For the full text of the PNGATI Fifth Anniversary Seminar final document, please click here (in Portuguese).