Sacha Waysa Community
Elevation:: 700 to 900 meters above sea level
Ecosystem: Bosque Siempreverde Piemontano del Norte de la Cordillera Oriental de los Andes
Size of the area: 32 hectáreas
Project duration: 2021-2023
Number of trees planted and mantained: 1.072
Reforestation objectives: Establish a fruit forest of rare native and endemic species with cultural importance for the Kichwa nationality, to preserve ancestral botanical knowledge.
About the Sacha Waysa Community
The Amazonian Kichwa loosely share their language with Andean Quechua (and the Inca Empire), although dialects and culture differ greatly, even between neighbouring provinces. Famous for their powerful shamans and their close relationship with ayahuasca, today many Kichwas claim their ancestral culture and vast ethnobotanical knowledge. Their territory, like that of the Shuar, is home to some of the most biodiverse forests on the planet.
Taken from the Kichwa in the past, throughout Napo province the Archidona religious mission has returned vast tracts of land to Kichwa communities. Outdated laws regarding the Kichwa’s “cutting down forests to prove ownership and claim free land” have been removed. In Cotundo, the Sachawaysa ecotourism working group focuses on revitalising the degraded landscape to restore biodiversity and recover lost ancestral plants used by their forefathers.
The territory of the “Sacha Waysa” community is located in the foothills of the Andes, without being considered part of the Amazon basin, since both Amazonian and mountain species grow and live in this transition zone. It is also part of the Andes-Amazon corridor, defined by Conservation International (CI) as the most species-diverse forests in the world. The project is close to four important protected areas, including “Gran Sumaco”, “Cayambe-Coca”, “Antisana” and “Llanganates”.
Sacha Waysa is in the process of a cultural renaissance. It has removed cattle, embarked on cultural eco-tourism, and initiated reforestation of community properties as well as private properties, using traditional fruit and timber plants. After the imposition of the colonial period and IERAC (Ecuadorian Institute of Agrarian Reform and Colonisation), which promoted and resulted in the massive deforestation of the area, the Kichwa people of Sacha Waysa are allowing the return of their forests.
These areas are being enriched with native and culturally important species of fine timber and fruit trees. This project will allow Sacha Waysa and Yakum to continue to move towards a biodiverse forest, which provides large amounts of ecosystem services to the community. The community is receiving external funding for the support and development of their community-cultural tourism.