Centro Lianas
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Maps of
Indigenous lands

Achuar territory
Map of Achuar lands in the process of being titled.

Shiwiar territory
Map of Shiwiar lands in the process of being titled


Shuar celebration after winning title to 143 sq miles of their ancestral lands

Shuar leader celebrates the receipt of land titles with his community

Shuar youth gather for the celebration of receipt of the nationality's first land titles

Ancestral Lands

Ecuador’s southern Amazon region is still relatively undisturbed by development and indigenous peoples still hold and manage large territories in traditional ways. However, powerful outside interests are pushing oil exploration into the region and creating conflicts over land. Indigenous nationalities need new tools and structures to reinforce their traditional land claims and to allow them to continue to protect the rainforest environment and their way of life.

Las Lianas partners with the Achuar, Shiwiar, and Shuar nationalities in the southeastern provinces of Pastaza and Morona Santiago, and with the Ecuadorian NGO Fundación Pachamama, in a program for the restoration and legal protection of their ancestral lands. We are working to solidify territorial claims and reaffirm the collective and indivisible nature of indigenous lands.

The ultimate goal of our partners is the creation of unified titles for all the lands of each nationality. This involves winning title to previously untitled lands while restructuring the existing patchwork of titles currently assigned to individual communities or other sub-groups into a unified territory. Each nationality has made this a priority because their members believe such a restructuring provides greater security of land tenure, which is a prerequisite both for preserving political autonomy and for sustainable development.

Our program also supports our partners’ internal processes of self-definition and self-determination as indigenous nationalities, including the reform and strengthening of their governance practices. These internal reforms take place in parallel with, and guide, the technical work of mapping and marking borders, as well as the essential dialogue with neighboring nationalities and with government agencies.

Program achievements to date

Our work on land tenure is close to reaching the important mark of 1000 square miles titled. In 2007, we helped the Shuar win six land titles covering a total of 143 square miles. These were the first land titles won by this nationality. We are now in the final stages of winning title to a total of 367 square miles in the name of the Achuar nationality and 486 square miles for the Shiwiar. With the exception of a small part of the Achuar territory along the Peruvian border, where international security issues may cause delays, we anticipate all this land to be titled by the end of 2009.

We have also assisted the self-definition and registration of each of four indigenous nationalities—the Achuar, the Shiwiar, the Zápara, and the Shuar—piloting a process to affirm their full constitutional status, established by indigenous organizations themselves and overseen by the Council for the Development of the Nationalities and Peoples of Ecuador (CODENPE). In addition, we have guided the legalization and registration of more than 60 indigenous Amazonian communities. These are essential legal steps preparatory to the granting of land titles or their restructuring.