Voices from the Forest
Written by Juriko Rupay
2020 EXL Graduate
The Voices on the Road documentary was released in August 2020. Watch the full documentary above!
In early 2020, fires across the Amazon Rainforest consumed the news. As the COVID-19 Pandemic swept the globe, coverage of the nearly 2.2 million hectares (5.4 million acres) dwindled but the Amazon continues to be under threat from logging, burning, and illegal land clearing that are eradicating this vital ecosystem. 2020 EXL Juriko Rupay is committed to protecting this place and advocating for the Indigenous People who call it home.
Juriko is a Peruvian biologist and activist who dedicates her time to conservation efforts in the Peruvian Amazon. As the communications coordinator for the documentary “Voices on the Road,” Juriko is helping to tell the socio-environmental conflict of an illegal road construction between two protected areas: the Manu Biosphere Reserve (a World Heritage site) and Amarakaeri Communal Reserve (a protected Indigenous territory). The documentary highlights how the construction of this road threatens both the Amazon, the ecosystem, and the Indigenous communities that live there.
One of the objectives of the documentary is to publicize this illegal road construction. The hope is that through working collaboratively with Indigenous leaders, scientific researchers, journalists, and politicians, the film can help:
- To understand local needs in order to facilitate discussion, knowledge-share and collaborative decision-making between stakeholders in Peru;
- To create a platform for community members to come together to discuss issues and concerns, while providing a means to amplify their voices and hold decision-makers to account through PV workshops;
- To carry out further research on the environmental and social impact of Manu Road now that it has been built through Diamante Native Community by carrying out in-depth interviews with community members;
- To deliver educational workshops for school children and university students across Peru to enhance understanding of biodiversity conservation and indigenous rights.
Research carried out by Juriko’s team showed both environmental and social injustices, especially structural discrimination and a lack of self-determination for Indigenous Peoples. As Juriko says, “I want to make the communities of Manu come back to believe that their forest is not a limitation on economic development. Local authorities have been telling them that they need to exploit the forest for basic services, which is not true. I want them to realize that they are not alone and that we, as conservationists, do not want to prevent them from having a better quality of life, but to help them achieve sustainable economic development.”