New & Notable on NGO Helps Amazonian Indigenous Map, Protect Traditional Lands

Project Name: Xingu Indigenous Reserve Mapping, Conservation, and Management

Managing NGO: Amazon Conservation Team, United States

Project director: Vasco M. van Roosmalen

Synopsis: This project seeks to assist the efforts of 14 tribes of the Xingu Indigenous Reserve to protect their lands from illegal incursions and ecological degradation, initially through creating indigenous-researched and technically sophisticated maps of the Reserve, identifying key landmarks, riverways, and sacred sites.

Annual budget & donors: $450,000 from the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation; Morgan Family Foundation; Newman’s Own; Overbrook Foundation; Grousbeck Family Foundation; MacTaggart Third Fund; Hawley Family Foundation; Hamill Family Foundation.

Principal accomplishments: From February 7-14th, 2004, the 14 tribes of Brazil’s Xingu Indigenous Park gathered to celebrate the completed cultural mapping of their traditional territories, an area spanning 7.5 million acres. A total of 32 maps were completed and prepared for printing. This project was the first time in recorded history that all of the tribes of this region collaborated to achieve a common end.

Lessons learned: Assembling leaders and representatives from remote locales incurs very significant travel costs and necessitates time-consuming and expert logistical planning; this cannot be overemphasized in budgetary, timeline, and staff time considerations. Beyond the actual maps, the successful collaboration between indigenous communities, various agencies of the Brazilian government, and an international non-governmental organization was a significant outcome in and of itself. Ideas, places, and technical environmental knowledge that were up until this point purely cognitive, existing only in the minds of indigenous people, were transformed into something tangible. Such a transformative process has already made significant strides toward the protection of both the cultures and the forests of the Xingu area.


Amazon Conservation Team, Edificio Business Point, SAS Q.3 Bl. C Sala 306, Brasilia, Brazil, CEP 70070-934, tel +55/61-323-7863, fax +55/61-323-7854, , .

Read more about this project in the Eco-Index:


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