With the help of CI, the Wai Wai people of Konashen District in Guyana have taken the bold step of creating the nation’s first Community Owned Conservation Area (COCA).
Under regulations passed by the Guyana parliament, the Wai Wai community formally designated their land a protected area and adopted a management plan, developed with technical and financial support from CI, for the 625,000-hectare (1.54-million-acre) tract on the northern border of Brazil’s Pará state.
ARTICLE: Wai Wai and Community Conservation.
As managers of the new COCA, the 204 Wai Wai of Konashen District are building a “conservation economy” based on the sustainable use of their natural resources. The plan will create jobs from conservation activities, such as newly trained para-biologists working with researchers to assess the territory’s flora and fauna, and local rangers patrolling the area. Other economic activities include ecotourism and expanding the traditional Wai Wai handicrafts business.
The Wai Wai received formal title to their land in 2004, and immediately asked for CI’s assistance in managing their lands for conservation and development. Over the next three years, the Wai Wai leadership worked with CI, Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to develop the necessary management plan, regulations and structure to become a COCA that will bring economic benefit to the Wai Wai while protecting part of the largest remaining swath of pristine rainforest on Earth.
VIDEO: World's First Conservation Concession.
By making their homeland a COCA, the Wai Wai will join and benefit from Guyana’s National Protected Areas System and an endowment trust being established by the government of Guyana. CI’s Global Conservation Fund and the German government are major contributors to the endowment fund.
LEARN: Read more stories of community partnerships and successes.