By Ovidio Castro Medina |
La Chorrera (Colombia) (EFE).- Discovering new species and identifying productive and sustainable alternatives based on biodiversity are some of the purposes of a scientific expedition that began in the Colombian Amazon, a region that for years was hidden from science by the armed conflict.
The Bio Expedition, Alto Río Igara-Paraná, an initiative of the Colombian Government through the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, with the collaboration of the Amazon Institute for Scientific Research (Sinchi), also seeks to contribute to the identification of species and the generation of biological knowledge of this area of the country, especially the department of Amazonas.
“The Amazon is a priority region, given its great environmental importance for Colombia and the world,” the Minister of Science and Technology, Arturo Luna, told EFE, who recalled that his portfolio allocated nearly 400 million pesos (about 400 million pesos) for the expedition. $89,000 today).
Slave past in the heart of the jungle
The presentation of the expedition took place in La Chorrera, an indigenous territory located in the heart of the jungle, which is located near the Igara-Paraná River, a tributary of the Putumayo, in the department of Amazonas, bordering Brazil and Peru.
In La Chorrera there is a natural reserve inhabited mainly by indigenous Uitotos, boras, ocainas and mirañas.
The hamlet is also known because at the beginning of the 20th century it was the headquarters of Casa Arana, a company owned by the Peruvian merchant Julio César Arana dedicated to the exploitation of rubber, which subjected the indigenous people of the area to cruel treatment, who were forced to work in slave regime.
The story of Casa Arana is told in the novel “El sueño del celta”, by Peruvian Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, through the actions of Sir Roger Casement, an Irishman who was in the diplomatic service of the British Government.
Referring to the contribution of the indigenous communities participating in the expedition that will last several months, Minister Luna explained that “no one but the communities themselves know this territory (…) even more than the researchers themselves.”
In addition, they can guide scientists to the places where there are fish, mammals and other species with which they have established a relationship of centuries.
All this will help to obtain “very valuable information to be able to do research on the country’s biodiversity,” said the minister and appreciated that the indigenous people become a link in the conservation of the Amazon region that also seeks to make itself known to the world. .
The general director of the Sinchi Institute, Luz Marina Mantilla, told EFE that in addition to knowing the region’s biodiversity offer, a cataloging of what is found in the area will be made, all with the help of the locals.
Mantilla stressed that what is also beginning is “an exchange of knowledge between traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge. Here we have 15 researchers from Sinchi and 19 with indigenous researchers», of whom he explained, they were trained to carry out specific tasks according to the knowledge they have of their environment.
According to the official, they will work in alliance with the Zonal Indigenous Association of Cabildos and Traditional Authorities of La Chorrera (Azicatch).
A world to discover in the Colombian Amazon
The expedition seeks to fill knowledge gaps in one of the strategic locations of the Colombian Amazon and contribute to the inventory of the country’s biodiversity from biological collections, as well as build bridges between scientific knowledge and the traditional knowledge of the Okaina peoples. , Bora, Muinane and Uitoto.
This will allow the consolidation of a biological inventory, the social appropriation of knowledge by the communities and the identification of productive and sustainable alternatives for biodiversity that contribute to the development of the area.