An indigenous Paraguayan community goes digital to protect senior lands

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ISLA JOVAI TEJU, Paraguay – Rumilda Fernández's indigenous community has long spent its senior lands in Pargua, marking boundaries with an ancient system of names for trees and streams. Now pressed by deforestation and farming, the public is going digital to defend itself.

Fernández, 28, is one of the first technology monitors equipped with technology, crossing the narrow clay trails in the Isla Jovai Teju community land to map the area with a smartphone application and GPS.

The work of his ethnic group Mbya Guaraní is a survival. The large plantations surrounding soybeans and maize in the South American nation have tackled their lands for many years and are tackling widespread deforestation.

“The forest was our supermarket and we didn't want anything else. Now with the clearance, everything has changed, ”said community leader Cornelia Flores, 60, with Reuters.

“Previously, we did not know how many hectares there was on our land. Now the map and what we actually have, ”Flores said.

The high-tech pressure is part of a project with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, training eight young people from the four Mbya communities in the Caaguazú area, about 125 miles east of the capital Asunción.

The monitors take photographs using a natural mobile phone app, tagging with senior terms such as “yvyra pyta” “guajayvi” or “ygary.” These points automatically indicate a map to the terrain boundaries. its layout.

“It was easy to learn, even though the technology element was more demanding for me,” said Fernández, that no computer or GPS (global positioning system) has ever been used before.

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

The loss of land and natural resources to indigenous people of Paraguay is a painful matter, accounting for two per cent of the country's total population. Experts cited the loss as one of the main reasons why 75 per cent live in extreme poverty or poverty, according to official data.

Paraguay Minister for Social Development Mario Varela said the Reuters poverty had emerged from the marginalization of indigenous people who had never been included, than their original culture was respected in Paraguayan society.

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

“We need to find out how the forest is still preserved as a reserve. For example, to give us the tools and support so that we cannot deforest the lands, ”he said.

Unlawful logging
Paraguay is divided into two main regions: a large area of ​​industrial farming in the east which put pressure on forest land and Chaco, a livestock area where clearance is permitted under certain conditions and lax supervision is frequent.

The country lost nearly 2,000 square miles of native forests in the eastern region since 2004. This was the year when “Non-Afforestation Law” was approved, which would prevent the mass of the woodland.

Cristina Goralewski, president of the country's National Forestry Institute, said some of the problem was as endemic corruption which meant that illegal logging was not exceeded. It hopes that the use of reliable technology and data will change.

President Mario Abdo acknowledged last year that there had been government corruption and promised “no tolerance” to officers found guilty of a grave.

“We know that there is closed contamination that supports too much deforestation,” said Goralewski, a 28-year-old engineer. She said the authorities had only stopped a 20-year lorry with timber from illegal logging.

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

(tagToTranslate) Tech (t) agriculture (t) environment (t) gps (t) united nations technology

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