In the Amazon, there are 409 indigenous lands, equivalent to 21.67% of the Legal Amazon territory and representing 98.61% of indigenous territories in Brazil as a whole. A significant portion of these indigenous lands lie in Tumucumaque (Amapá state), an area centred around a chain of mountains that, on the southern side, join the watersheds of two major river basins flowing into the Amazon River. On the northern side of the mountains are the Sipaliweni, Tapanahoni and Paloemeu rivers, crossing into Suriname and discharging into the Atlantic Ocean.

Most of the Tumucumaque indigenous territory is composed of dense rain forest. The savannas on the western part of the territory are floristically highly similar to the savannas of the central/eastern region of Brazil and to the south of the territory there is a large transition area between forests and savannas. The high biodiversity of Tumucumaque is coupled with a high cultural diversity, with various ethnic groups including the Wayana, Tiriyó and Kaxuyana divided between the western and eastern regions.

In Project COBRA, we have been working with the mainly Tiriyó and Kaxuyana communities in the west of Tumucumaque, along the rivers of Paru do Oeste and Marapi. Subsistence farming, fishing and hunting are the main sources of food for the communities, and cassava in particular, plays a prominent role in community life and rituals. The villages can only be reached by plane or long travel times by boat and until recently, the remoteness of the region, together with the presence of protected areas, has largely ensured the protection of Tumucumaque from the negative effects of environmental impacts. However, there are concerns about the expansion of unsustainable economic activities, such as agribusiness, farming, mining and logging, and the lack of social care in the areas of health and education. Project COBRA aims to work with local communities to reflect on emerging challenges and how local solutions can be promoted to favour sustainable development in the region.

QUICK DOWNLOAD: Check out the English version of the COBRA Handbook for Practitioners.