Paraguayan indigenous community goes digital to protect ancestral lands

Paraguayan indigenous community goes digital to protect ancestral lands

Rumilda Fernández’s indigenous community has long tended its ancestral lands in Paraguay, marking boundaries with an ancient system of names for trees and streams. Now, squeezed by deforestation and farming, the community is going digital to defend itself, reports Trend citing to Reuters

Fernández, 28, is one of the group’s first technology-equipped forest monitors, traversing the narrow earthen tracks of the Isla Jovai Teju community’s land to map the area with a smartphone app and GPS.

The work is a matter of survival for her Mbya Guaraní ethnic group. Their lands have been encroached on over the years by vast surrounding plantations of soybeans and maize in the South American nation that is grappling with widespread deforestation.

“The forest was our supermarket and we did not need anything more. Now with the clearing, everything has changed,” community leader Cornelia Flores, 60, told Reuters.

“Before, we did not know how many hectares our land was. Now we have the map and the actual size,” Flores added.

The tech push is part of a project with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, training eight indigenous youths from four Mbya communities in the district of Caaguazú, about 125 miles (200 km) east of the capital Asunción.

The monitors take photographs using a cellphone app of natural landmarks, tagging them with ancestral terms such as “yvyra pyta”, “guajayvi” or “ygary.” These points automatically populate a map to outline the borders of the terrain.

“It was easy to learn, though the technology element was tougher for me,” said Fernández, who had never used a computer or a GPS (global positioning system) before.

The Mbya leaders believe incorporating technology will help them protect lands that in the past have been occupied by large-scale producers or farmers, preserving forests as a critical source of food and medicinal plants.

Loss of land and natural resources is a painful issue for the indigenous people of Paraguay, who represent 2% of the country’s total population. The loss has been cited by experts as one of the main reasons 75% of them live in poverty or extreme poverty, according to official data.

Paraguay’s Minister of Social Development Mario Varela told Reuters impoverishment stemmed from the marginalizing of indigenous people who “had never been included, nor their original culture respected” in Paraguayan society.

“The problem for the indigenous is that we have been in Paraguay for 500 years and they have never helped us,” said Teófilo Flores, leader of the Pindo’i community of 750 people in Caaguazú.

“We need to know how to preserve the forest that remains as a reserve. For example, giving us the tools and support so that we ourselves also don’t deforest the lands,” he added.


Paraguay is divided into two main regions: a large area with industrial farming in the east that has put pressure on forest land, and Chaco, a livestock area where clearing is allowed under certain conditions and where oversight is often lax.

The country has lost nearly 2,000 square miles (500,000 hectares) of native forests in the eastern region since 2004, official data shows. That was the year when a “Zero Deforestation Law,” supposedly preventing the mass cutting of woodland, was approved.

Cristina Goralewski, president of the country’s National Forestry Institute, said part of the problem was endemic corruption that meant illegal logging went unchecked. She hopes the use of technology and reliable data will change that.

President Mario Abdo, who took office last year, has previously acknowledged government corruption and pledged “zero tolerance” for officials found guilty of graft.

“We know that there’s ingrained corruption that supports this excessive deforestation,” said Goralewski, a 28-year-old engineer. She pointed out that in five years authorities had only stopped 20 trucks with timber from illegal logging.

“The priority for the government is to stop illegal deforestation in the eastern region and use technology for that because we see that the controls are just not working.”

Amount of financial support of Kazakh manufacturing sector by Baiterek holding increases
Amount of financial support of Kazakh manufacturing sector by Baiterek holding increases
Attracting FDI can help Georgia to boost exports of high-value food products - OECD
Attracting FDI can help Georgia to boost exports of high-value food products - OECD
Azerbaijan discloses volume of fruits and vegetables exported since early 2021
Azerbaijan discloses volume of fruits and vegetables exported since early 2021
Loading Bars
Czech gov't declares new state of emergency over coronavirus
U.S. FDA advisors recommend approving Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use
Increase in malware attacks makes cybersecurity more relevant than ever - Kaspersky Lab in Azerbaijan
South Korea vaccinates 18,000 to start ambitious COVID-19 campaign
US may announce new sanctions on Russia within weeks - White House press secretary
Founder of Indian Jet Airways eyes opening airline in Uzbekistan’s Namangan region
Saudi Arabia rejects U.S. intelligence report on Khashoggi's killing: statement
Israel registers 2,738 new COVID-19 cases, 769,971 in total
U.S. announces 'Khashoggi ban' for 76 Saudi individuals
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 427,000 in past day
Slovenia confirms first case of coronavirus variant identified in S. Africa
UN Security Council adopts resolution on vaccination
UK records another 8,523 coronavirus cases, 345 deaths
Kazakhstan shows interest in supplies of Belarusian sugar, its manufacturing technology
Turkey reports 9,205 new COVID-19 cases, 2,683,971 in total
Iran, Russia emphasize need to coop. in agricultural sector
When will Georgia receive its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?
House poised to approve Biden's $1.9T coronavirus relief bill in Friday vote
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
Azerbaijan discloses volume of liabilities of banks in Jan. 2021 accounting for deposits
Azerbaijan imposes restrictions on import of poultry meat from Estonian county
Amount of financial support of Kazakh manufacturing sector by Baiterek holding increases
Attracting FDI can help Georgia to boost exports of high-value food products - OECD
European Council extends mandate of special representative for South Caucasus
Kuwait reports 1,022 new COVID-19 cases, 189,046 in total
WHO says COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Africa has gathered steam
Armenia has always supported terrorism - MP
EU supports JCPOA commitments
Azerbaijan focused on rehabilitation, reconstruction of liberated lands - MP
Assistant to Azerbaijan's president talks country's success in int'l information field
Baku Stock Exchange to auction off Azerbaijani Central Bank's short-term notes
Azerbaijan records growth of GDP in non-oil sector over Jan. 2021
Azerbaijan discloses volume of fruits and vegetables exported since early 2021
Azerbaijan would like to bring new ideas, proposals to region with help of OSCE - MP
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan talk opening ground checkpoints
All Armenian prisoners of war have been returned to Armenia - Azerbaijani MP
President Aliyev makes phone call to President Erdogan
Number of electronic registrations of businesses in Azerbaijan growing
TikTok is more affordable with Azercell!
Etsy not thinking of accepting bitcoin right now
Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan reach agreement on drilling wells with Satti jack-up rig
Only close cooperation can help demilitarize South Caucasus region - Azerbaijani MP
Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping CJSC receives int'l certificate in use of specialized software
FAO outlines strategy for healthy and productive livestock in Europe, Central Asia
Azerbaijan's January 2021 revenues from exports to US increase over fourfold
Registration of new enterprises down in Georgia
We have created new realities, Armenia and other countries must reckon with it - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan's AzerGold, BUZ Consulting ink contract to acquire Microsoft license
Precious metal prices down in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's State Employment Agency opens tender on e-platform development
Azerbaijan holds minute of silence to honor Khojaly genocide victims
Turkmenistan's Turkmenhimiya extends tender for turnkey construction of plants
Putin discusses current situation in Karabakh with Russian Security Council members
Azerbaijan records decline in total assets of local banks for Jan.2021
CNPC in Turkmenistan opens tender for purchase of tubing, spare parts
TPP in Uzbekistan announces tender for construction of combined cycle unit
Iran launches telecommunication projects in Isfahan Province
Azerbaijani witnesses to Khojaly genocide recount tragic events - Trend TV (VIDEO)
Turkmenistan conducts exploration, drilling operations at fields in Caspian region
Portugal's 'Original Features' shoots film about Khojaly genocide (VIDEO)
China will extend tariff exemptions for 65 U.S. products
Azerbaijan reports 180 more COVID-19 recoveries
Russian state official stresses need to reveal out causes and culprits of Khojaly tragedy
Uzbekistan to increase number of facilities recording water based on 'smart water’ technology
Uzbekistan’s 2020 volume of foreign direct investments down
Nothing must divert involved sides from main task in Nagorno-Karabakh region - Russian MFA
Kazakhstan reports increase in agriculture yield year-on-year
Iran's export to Spain declines
EU overseeing several projects to reinforce renewable energy use in Georgia
Azerbaijani population honoring memory of victims of Khojaly genocide (PHOTO)
Despite events in Armenia, it's necessary to continue implementation of agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh - Russian official
Azerbaijan jointly with Turkey to improve gaming industry - Game Tech
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine reduces transmission after one dose
India's April-Jan fiscal deficit hits 66.8% of full-year target
Azerbaijan discloses amount of compensations paid to depositors of closed banks
Turkmenistan, Russia considering co-op in construction, electrification of railways
EBRD reveals info on investments in Azerbaijani projects
Turkey to ask Russia for discount on natural gas imports
European Council President Charles Michel to visit Georgia
Spain lowers import of Azerbaijani crude oil
WB, BSEC and Georgia start consultations on 'blueing the Black Sea'
Azerbaijani ombudsman makes statement on 29th anniversary of Khojaly genocide (VIDEO)
There will be good opportunity for cooperation between our relevant agencies and international companies - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan issues data on 2020 oil export to Greece
France raises imports of Turkish made cars
Turkey records increase in car exports to Georgia
Turkey discloses foreign trade turnover in Jan. 2021
We are preparing master plan for reconstruction of each city - President of Azerbaijan
Process of modernization of Azerbaijani cities continues - President Aliyev
Armenia ruined almost all religious monuments in Azerbaijani de-occupied lands - State Committee
Turkish president reveres memory of Azerbaijani brothers and sisters ruthlessly murdered in Khojaly
Memory of Khojaly genocide to live forever, says Azerbaijan's ombudsperson
Azerbaijan sees decline in crude oil exports to India
Azerbaijan nearly doubles oil supplies to Ukraine
Turkey discloses number of ships received at Antalya port in Jan.2021
Turkmen Airlines to receive new Boeing 777-200LR aircraft
Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation reveals amount of oil extracted in country
Turkmenistan extends suspension of flights
We were preparing for war all these years, we never concealed that - President of Azerbaijan
Pakistani Airlines requests permission to operate flights to Uzbekistan
All news