Currently, our work is primarily focused on the Maijuna indigenous group and their ancestral lands within the northeastern Peruvian Amazon. Today, there are only 450 Maijuna individuals left living in four villages in a large, forested area between the Napo and Putumayo Rivers. Maijuna ancestral territory is one of the most biologically rich places on Earth. For example, Maijuna lands contain a complex of high terraces – an extremely unique and previously unknown habitat – that shelters a flora and fauna with new, rare, and specialized species. Researchers have also identified Maijuna ancestral forests as an area of extremely high carbon stocks, making the area a critically important carbon sink in a world increasingly concerned with and impacted by climate change.
Unfortunately, there are currently a wide variety of threats and challenges to Maijuna lands. For example, due to the intact nature of Maijuna ancestral lands, and the biological resources present within them, they are now under threat from loggers, hunters, fishers, and resource extractors from outside communities. Even more serious is the fact that the Peruvian government is planning to build a 130-kilometer long road directly through the heart of Maijuna ancestral territory. Additionally, a development corridor of 5 kilometers on either side of the proposed road is envisioned with a focus on palm oil production. In short, the direct effects of highway construction and clearing the area for palm oil plantations would irreversibly alter the ecological fabric of this currently roadless area and would destroy hundreds of thousands of hectares of carbon sequestering forest further fueling global climate change. Furthermore, given that the Maijuna are a forest dwelling people who rely on the forest for sustenance and survival, building this road would negatively impact their livelihood and traditional cultural.