For the Cofán people, the forest is everything: a house, a market, a pharmacy. So says Medardo, a husband, father and teacher who has lived his entire life in Dureno, an Amazonian indigenous community in northeastern Ecuador.
With increasing pressure on resources from energy companies as well as illegal logging and hunting, the long history of forest protection is being threatened.
Socio Bosque — an initiative by the Ecuadorian government based on practices developed by CI — gives Dureno community members a stronger incentive to protect the forest that surrounds them. For the first time, they are receiving tangible, economic benefits to keep up their conservation work. Through the program, they commit to keep the trees standing and prohibit hunting for commercial purposes. In return for taking care of the forest, they are compensated with housing, education, healthcare and more. Their actions also benefit the habitats of wild cats, tapirs, capybaras, giant otters, numerous monkeys and other species.
“We are happy to maintain our long tradition of taking care of the forest and pass it along to our own children,” says Medardo. “This program shows the positive impact we can have on the forest and the planet when our work is valued.”