Pilot Project for the Creation of a Water Monitoring Program in the Cofán Ancestral Territories
Funded by USAID and the Wildlife Conservation Society
The Cofán Nation of Ecuador presently owns and manages over 400,000 hectares of primary tropical and subtropical forests. These include the critical headwaters regions of several major rivers and flooded forest areas of northeastern Ecuador, which provide crucial environmental services to the region, including fisheries, water for human consumption, valuable recreational and tourist attractions, and agricultural benefits.
However, these headwaters systems are being threatened by development outside of the Cofán Ancestral Territories borders. Current primary menaces include mining, petroleum, and logging activities, which could seriously compromise both the quality and the quantity of these important freshwater systems. Between 2008 and 2009, a pilot program was initiated to determine the feasibility of creating a long-term, community-based water monitoring program in the Cofán Ancestral Territories.
This program focused on providing extensive capacity-building to male and female Cofán rangers who were responsible for recording water monitoring-related data at park guard stations on a weekly basis and for occasionally collecting water samples for laboratory analysis of heavy metals and hydrocarbons. A large-scale water and soil sampling campaign also was realized over a three-month period (June-August 2009) to collect baseline water quality data throughout the Cofán territories. During this time, water was sampled at eight ranger stations, 13 Cofán communities, over 30 rivers and streams, and 5 lakes. During this pilot program, Cofán rangers successfully learned to operate and maintain water sampling equipment, collect samples and record data. The successful of this pilot project indicates the high probability for the success of a long-term, community-based water monitoring program led by the Cofán themselves. Presently, the limiting factor for advancing on this program is the acquisition of a sustainable source of funds to support such an ambitious and long-term program.
Copyright 2013 - Cofan Survival Fund 501(c)3 nonprofit in the USA
Fundación para la Sobreviviencia del Pueblo Cofán in Ecuador