Research projects 11

Access to schooling and higher education are considered as primary means to empower marginalized groups and enhance sustainable development in the Global South. In Ecuador the intercultural bilingual education programme that affirmed the fundamental importance of integrating diverse local languages knowledges and pedagogical practices in education was established already in and later amended based on the community-centric ecologically-balanced and culturally-sensitive philosophy of sumakkawsay (buenvivir). However the programme is still only partially applied and thus education typically follows homogenized standards and fails to include specific cultural realities.

Improving our understanding of human-environment relations, and particularly of human motivations, rationale and management regimes, is paramount to the success of any biodiversity conservation initiative involving local communities. By comparing approaches, challenges and successes across case study sites, this research aims to identify those contextual settings, socio-cultural traits, incentives, and practical tools that best foster optimum long-term integration of biodiversity conservation and local wellbeing.

  • Head of research Risto Kalliola
  • Language n/a

Hundreds of geoglyphs, geometrically formed man-made earth works, have only recently been found in southwestern Brazilian Amazonia and adjacent Bolivia. Geoglyphs occur in an area that partly overlaps with bamboo-dominated forests that are exceptional rain forests because they are dominated by a single species. The aim of the project is to find out if there is a causal relationship between bamboo forests and geoglyphs.

Fresh water scarcity due to glacier retreat and decreasing precipitation related to global climate change will be one of the most serious environmental and social challenges in the Andean Amazonian region in this century. Rapidly increasing land use changes make water scarcity even more critical in dry season and, on the other hand, increase flooding and landslide risks in rainy season, because deforested areas have lost their natural water retention and storage capacity. A better understanding of natural water fluxes of forest ecosystems is needed to be able to solve the problems in water cycle.

  • Head of research Pirjo Virtanen / Sidney da Silva Facundes
  • Language n/a

Os objetivos e metas da pesquisa são os seguintes: 1) Objetivo Geral a. Reconstruir a história dos povos aruák antes do contato com os não-índios e depois do contato na Bácia Purus; 2) Objetivos específicos a. Pesquisar a organização política no passado e hoje. b. Pesquisar os processos corporais e educação ligados às negociações interétnicas. c. Comparar líderes e porta-vozes no passado e hoje. d. Pesquisar a participação nas organizações indígenas e na política indígena. e. Determinar o papel histórico das línguas indígenas nas mudanças sofridas. f. Tornar os conhecimentos do passado obtidos através da pesquisa acessíveis aos povos estudados através da publicação de dicionários, livros de ensino de escrita e conversa, e coletâneas de mitos história.

Because of the huge species diversity of Amazonian forests, it has been difficult to obtain a general idea of their environmental and floristic variation among sites. This makes it difficult to allocate suitable land uses to areas with different productivity, to adapt the management systems to local ecological conditions, and to identify habitats of high conservation value. Understorey plants (such as pteridophytes) can be used as indicators to rapidly and at relatively low cost evaluate the ecological conditions and species composition of a given rain forest site. The present project will design a species identification tool that conveys to the users of the indicator species approach 1) the knowledge on how to identify the indicator species, and 2) the information on what kind of environment or forest each species indicates. In order to be useful for people who are not plant specialists, the identification tool will be interactive, easy to use, free of botanical jargon, richly illustrated and freely available on the internet.

Estimating how well existing conservation units represent different habitats and their species is necessary for the long-term preservation of biological diversity and for sustainable use of forest resources. The task is especially challenging in Amazonia, which is both extensive and largely unexplored. Therefore, exact enough maps of the distribution of biodiversity are not available. We aim to solve the problem by combining the efforts of two teams that have approached biodiversity-related questions from different points of view. Attention will be given both to the current distribution of biodiversity in Amazonia and to the geological history that has shaped it. This will invove a combination of novel remote sensing methods, exceptionally extensive and internally consistent field data, and a thorough understanding of the geology of the Amazon basin and the ecology of selected indicator plants.

  • Head of research Martti Pärssinen
  • Language n/a

The "United in Diversity: Monumental Landscapes, Regionality, and Cultural Dynamism in Pre-Columbian Western Amazonia" (2011–2015) is a multidisciplinary project focusing on cultural dynamics of the prehistoric indigenous populations in the southwestern Amazon. The geometric earthworks connected by road systems, identified by Brazilian and Finnish researchers in the Upper Purus River Basin, have contributed to formulate a new perspective of Amazonian civilizations. The primary objectives of our project are to reconstruct the cultural, economic, ethnic, and demographic processes involved in the occurrence of the geometric earthwork tradition in the Brazilian states of Acre and Amazonas. The project is sponsored by the Academy of Finland.

  • Head of research Vary
  • Language n/a

General Objective: Promote ecosystems conservation through watershed management to improve human well-being and conserve high biodiversity Amazonian areas of Peru and Colombia. Geographic location: The project will focus on five basins, the Alto Mayo River Basin in Peru, which includes the development of payment-for-water ecosystem services (PES) schemes in the Moyabamba, Rioja, and Yuracyacu subwatersheds, and the Orito, Mocoa, Guineo and Orteguáza River Basins in the Amazonian Piedmont in Colombia. Project Area: The total area the project will cover in both countries is 1,408,317 has; The Orito, Mocoa, Guineo and Orteguáza River basins, cover 93,448 ha, 68,851 ha, 36,532 ha and 428,768 respectively, for a total area of 627,599 ha. The Alto Mayo River Basin covers approximately 780,718 hectares. Beneficiaries: The project will benefit a total of approximately 460,000 people; 238,000 people in the Orito, Mocoa, Guineo and Orteguáza River basins and 221,642 inhabitants in the Alto Mayo River basin. Duration: July 2012 – July 2017 (5 years)

  • Head of research Pirjo Virtanen
  • Language n/a

In Latin America indigenous peoples have turned into significant political actors. This project examines how the new forms of indigenous leaderships connect to the questions of power, and consider how they are interpreted from a native point of view. The studied groups are two Arawak-speaking groups living in Western Amazonia, Brazil. In looking at the way these two groups view their spokespeople and create new political, cultural, and economic partnerships, the aim is to explore the Amerindian way of producing different bodies, authority, and agency. The research also addresses historical changes of leadership as part of other social and political processes in the past and present. The main research questions are the following: 1) What are the new forms of leadership in Amazonian native communities? 2) How can acting in new interethnic networks be understood as a new type of human-to-human relation in Amazonian sociocosmology? 3) How have social roles hold by the young indigenous people changed their communities? 4) What are the differences between young female and male native leaders? 5) How have Amazonian leaderships changed taking into account environmental changes, economic, political, social, and legal processes?