Our Future Forests–­Amazonia Verde: Inaugural Fellowship Honors 24 Indigenous Women as Leaders in Amazonian Environmental Future

July 12, 2021

Conservation International, COICA, French Government recognize Indigenous peoples’ vital role in conservation solutions


Bogotá, Colombia (July 12, 2021)Our Future Forests–Amazonia Verde has announced the 24 Indigenous women who will serve as inaugural Fellows for the Amazon Basin region. The Fellows were selected from 150 candidates across Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Perú and Suriname. The new Fellowship Program will foster their leadership efforts in their respective communities and recognize the women acting as stewards, protectors and restorers of the Amazon.

For the project, Conservation International’s Our Future Forests–Amazonia Verde is working with the Government of France and the Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) to launch the new women's Fellowship Program, a major step towards gender equality within the Amazon region.

The fellowship will last 12 months, and the women will focus on a variety of projects that will support women and nature. Examples of their planned projects include community-based conservation efforts that will draw on ancestral knowledge and focus on the restoration of forests using nature-based solutions, support the sustainable management of Melipona bee populations and generate sustainable finance for ongoing conservation efforts.

The program will look for a regional mentor that will play a supportive role in empowering this group of 24 Fellows to be promoters, researchers and spokespersons for their respective projects within their own communities. Fellows may also incorporate local mentorship and technical support into their initiatives provided by Conservation International.

Women embody a fundamental role in the structure of local communities and Indigenous peoples – they are givers of life, protectors, connoisseurs of traditional medicines, seeders, restorers, matriarchs within their families and stewards of traditional knowledge. Supporting Indigenous women in strengthening their knowledge and financial means can encourage autonomy and leadership of their own projects; all help ensure the security and conservation of the territories and forests they call home.

Connectivity is key to the Fellowship, and, in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fellows have established communication virtually, advancing the program despite limited physical contact. The program is committed to connecting Fellows with quality internet and other tools necessary for collaboration, with the intention of formally starting Fellowship contracts and programming in the coming months.

Below, meet the women selected as Fellows in the inaugural class of the Fellowships Program:


  1. Bernice Serataya Paz, Chiquitana. Bernice will promote equal opportunities through the creation of natural pharmacies with a gender-conscious and natural/renewable approach. She is responsible for gender considerations for the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB).
  2. Elibeth Peredo, Moxeño Trinitario. Elilbeth will craft protections for the blue paraba (macaw) in support of the concept “Tradition without extinction.”
  3. Evelin García, Monkox Chiquitana. Evelin will generate an intergenerational learning cycle that reevaluates the use of medicinal plants in communities and schools. She is supported by the Indigenous Central of Native Communities of Lomerío (CICOL) and the El Puquio Cristo Rey Community.
  4. Agripina Tibubay, Tacana. Agripina will further develop products derived from the Brazilian Nut, supporting sustainable commerce. She is supported by the Las Pampitas Community.


  1. Samela Lorena Vilacio Marteninghi, Sateré Mawé. Samela will gather ancestral knowledge of traditional Sateré Mawé medicine through workshops and the development of vegetable gardens and medicinal plant beds.
  2. Edina Carlos Brandão (Pekāshaya), Shanenawa, Feijó/AC (TI Katukina/Kaxinawá). Edina will facilitate the exchange of ancestral knowledge – on the use of medicines in the forest – among elderly women in the village of Shane Kaya.
  3. Josiane Otaviano Guilherme (Josiane Ticuna), Benjamin Constant, Indigenous land Tikuna from Santo Antônio. Josiane will strengthen Indigenous culture and knowledge of agroecology in the Upper and Middle Solimões River regions by providing social spaces and activities.
  4. Maria Francisca Arruda Batista Apurinã, Apurinã land. Maria will implement her Jamamadi Natural Pharmacy project on Jamamadi land in the village of Lourdes Cajueiro (in Boca do Acre).


  1. Lilia Isolina Java Tapayuri, Resguardo indígena Ticuna, Cocama y Yagua, Puerto Nariño, Amazonas department. Lilia will recognize the role of women in ancestral fishing practices and highlight their roles in natural resource management decision-making.
  2. María Célsida Biguidima Kuyediño, Cabildo indígena La Samaritana, Puerto Leguízamo, Putumayo department. María will recover and conserve degraded areas through the planting of Canangucha (Mauritia flexuosa). Canangucha fruits and leaves are used by local Indigenous communities for rituals, food, and housing for both people and native animal species.
  3. Carmenza Yucuna Rivas, Indigenous Council of the Mirití-Paraná Mirití-Paraná indigenous reserve, Amazonas department. Carmenza will conduct endogenous research of the native Melipona bee species to strengthen traditional knowledge of environmental management among women in the community, highlighting values of sustainable work while generating financial mechanisms.


  1. Gladis Yolanda Grefa Mamallacta, Kichwa nation in Napo province. Gladis will strengthen women's entrepreneurial leadership through handicraft projects using native species and ancestral knowledge. She is part of the Association of Artisanal Production’s "Antisuyu Awachishka Wiwakuna" (ASOAWAKKUNA) Amazonian Animal Weaving.
  2. Katty Elizabeth Guatatoca Lema, Unión Base community of Kichwa nation, Pastaza province. Katty, of the "Awana Colectiva," will work with other Kichwa women to strengthen and promote sustainable environmental management based on ancestral knowledge, implementing a community project to conserve and restore nature.


  1. Immaculata Casimero, Wapichan tribe from Aishalton Village. Immaculata will advocate for protection of the main headwaters of the South Rupununi by raising awareness through workshops on environmental laws.
  2. Caroline Jacobs, Makushi tribe from Surama Village. Caroline will document and record traditional women’s leadership knowledge from the council of elders in four geographic communities to help ensure the conservation of the environment.
  3. Esther Marslowe, Lokono tribe from Santa Cruz village. Esther will promote the preservation of Indigenous culture and youth empowerment among young Indigenous women.
  4. Loretta Fiedtkou, Arawak tribe from Muritaro village. Loretta will replant an area of her community with Crabwood trees, Hubadi trees and other endangered trees to emphasize the benefits of traditional farming and land management methods.
  5. Althea Harding, Carib tribe from Kwebana village. Althea will empower Indigenous women in her community to build soft skills, improve literacy and learn handicrafts through skills-building sessions. She will also document the Carib language spoken in her village to keep the language alive.


  1. Sharmaine Artist, Powakka village. Sharmaine will facilitate "bio-hydroponic farming" projects for women to encourage environmentally friendly planting and sustainable waste management techniques.
  2. Marijane Makadepuung, Pelelu Tepu. Marijane will coordinate a waste management project in Tepu, working with other women to raise waste management knowledge and create a Management Manual for community distribution.

From PERÚ:

  1. Gabriela Loaiza Seri, Koribeni Native Community from Cusco region. Gabriela will use ancestral knowledge to enhance the value of medicinal plants and bio-jewelry, following a transgenerational approach promoting values of respect and awareness toward nature.
  2. Cecilia Martinez, Yanesha Ñagazu Native Community from Pasco region. Cecilia will conserve, promote and recover non-timber resources that are important for the development of Yanesha textile and jewelry crafts.
  3. Judith Nunta, regional organization Aidesep-ORAU from Ucayali region. Judith will ensure the participation of Indigenous women leaders in decision-making across three thematic areas: territory, climate change and forests and women's participation.
  4. Nelyda Entsakua, Awajún Community of Shimpiyacu, San Martín region. Nelyda will strengthen the management capacities and organization of women artisans and their families, while also strengthening the process of ecosystem recovery in the Shimpiyacu community.


About Our Future Forests–Amazonia Verde

Our Future Forests–Amazonia Verde is working with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to advance investments and incentives that will conserve up to 12 percent of the Amazon — about 73 million hectares (180 million acres) — by 2025. With funding from the government of France, the project directly contributes to the objectives of the Alliance for the Conservation of Rainforests an open coalition led by France to promote the protection, restoration and sustainable management of rainforests worldwide. For more information visit www.conservation.org/ourfutureforests

About Conservation International 

Conservation International works to protect the critical benefits that nature provides to people. Through science, partnerships and fieldwork, Conservation International is driving innovation and investments in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, supporting protections for critical habitats, and fostering economic development that is grounded in the conservation of nature. Conservation International works in 30 countries around the world, empowering societies at all levels to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet. Follow Conservation International's work on Conservation NewsFacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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