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Sapara

Project Title: Territoriality and climate change in the Sapara people of the Ecuadorian Amazon

Participating Indigenous Peoples/Nation: The assessment will be carried out in the territory of the Sapara people, in the province of Pastaza. There are 10 Sapara communities with a total of 200 inhabitants.

Proponent Organisation: Land is Life and Nacionalidad Zapara del Ecuador (NAZAE)

Overall Project Objective
The main objective is to inquire into the impacts of climate change and its mitigation policies on Sapara territoriality, which is understood as the sum of biotic, abiotic, socio-cultural and organisational components and the relationship between people and nature.

Brief Description of Project:
This assessment aims to identify and evaluate the impacts of climate change on the territoriality and organization of the Sapara people. Specifically, the project will identify environmental impacts of climate change on indigenous subsistence based on agriculture, hunting and gathering. Further, the project will analyze the impacts of climate change mitigation policies implemented nationally and internationally on Sapara self-governance and territorial governance. Finally, the impact of oil extraction activities occurring in the area will be analysed in terms of how the industry contributes to climate change locally and globally.

The underlying objective of the project is to strengthen the Sapara people for improved adaptation to climate change both in terms of organizational capacity and self-governance.

Local ecosystem, resource management and livelihoods practices:
The Sapara people manage their resources through their traditional management practices which allow for hunting and gathering for subsistence, without impacting on the natural forest equilibrium and the relationship between people and nature. Agriculture is practiced within a sustainable system without excessive forest clearing or soil degradation. The main subsistence products include yuka, bananas, papajibra and chonta. Their diet is supplemented through hunting and fishing.

The relative isolation of the Sapara territory means that market production is minimal. However, other externally driven activities such as petroleum exploration and hunting by non-Sapara in their territory is beginning to degrade the quality of the land. Today, the local economy is supplemented through the production of artisan goods made from local materials such as hammocks which are periodically sold to external markets.

Climatic conditions/trends in the assessment site:
The Amazonian climate is tropical, hot and humid. The temperature ranges between 23 and 26 oC with extremes of 15 and 38 oC. Annual rainfall ranges between 2425 – 3145 mm and average humidity at 88%. The driest season is between August and February.

Potential climate change impacts on the ecosystem and communities
An increase in the medium annual temperature in the Amazon, increasing between 3 and 7 degrees by 2100 has been estimated. The Amazon region is extremely sensitive to droughts, as latest studies show (RAINFOR 2005). These study show that through death of trees, a large amount of carbon is lost to the atmosphere during droughts. Movement to savannah conditions and reduction in rainfall pose serious threats to global biodiversity.

Since the Sapara people depend on the forest resources for their subsistence and well-being, climate change impacts in the Amazonian forest ecosystems will lead to profound impacts in local livelihoods. Loss of biodiversity and death of the forest through temperature increase and anthropogenic pressure in the region put the Sapara way of life at risk. Their culture, territoriality, governance and well-being all depend on the forest which they have historically conserved through their traditional practices.
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