Both the projects the Size of Herefordshire is supporting are in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, one of the largest in the Amazon Basin but heavily under attack.
Both projects involve working closely with two groups of indigenous people there - the Awajun with Cool Earth and the Wampis with the Forest Peoples Programme. These forest peoples are the key to protecting the rainforest: they get their living and their sustenance from the rainforest, their traditions and rituals are rooted in the forest and go back centuries. If they lose, the world loses their part of the great Amazon rainforest. If they win, their rainforest is sustained for the future as far as we can see.
For 25 years, the Forest Peoples’ Programme (FPP) has been in the front line of the battle against the loggers and all the other interests destroying the tropical rainforest at an alarming rate. They operate in many countries around the world and their main weapon to help the indigenous peoples hold onto their land is - the law. Using crack teams of lawyers and modern techniques like GPS mapping, they get legal title for the villagers so that it becomes much harder for loggers and exploiters to get them off their land. The FPP then get the forest peoples’ ownership of their land recognised by local and national government. In this way, the FPP can get huge areas of a rainforest protected in law - one example is an FPP legal action which has protected more than 3 million hectares in Guyana.
This is not the only technique the FPP use. They take law suits out against illegal loggers and oil companies. They fight against government policies that would wreck the rainforest. One example is a massive oil project in south-eastern Peru, one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world and home to many forest peoples. The Camisea project entails sinking 22 wells across the region including the Manu National Park, a UN World Heritage Site. The FPP are even planning a mass action to force the Peruvian Government to give legal title to all its indigenous people - rather than piece by piece legal action.
Down on the ground, deep in the forest, the FPP work with the villagers in otherways too- such as promoting sustainable forest management.
The Size of Herefordshire and the Wampis
With The Size of Herefordshire, the FPP are working on protecting the land of the Wampis people, who live in north eastern Peru on the watersheds of the Santiago and Morona Rivers. The Wampis are engaged in a hard struggle with gold mining companies including a Canadian outfit called Dorato. Gold mining in the rainforest is extra-ordinarily destructive - it washes soil, mercury and cyanide into the rivers, killing all wildlife. (www.intercontinentalcry.org.)
The 13,000 strong Wampis people will benefit from a three-year plan to get legal title and control over their lands ( which total 1.4 million hectares) by the FPP. The Size of Herefordshire plans to raise the money to protect 200,000 hectares of the Wampis rainforest.