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Audiovisual series | Natural Resources


Audiovisual Series: Community management of forest areas

Ernest CaƱada | Alba Sud

We present four new audiovisual reports produced by Alba Sud for PRISMA Foundation and  the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB) in Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama on communities’ and indigenous peoples’ experiences in the use and conservation of forest resources.

This series of four videos was produced during 2014 by Alba Sud for PRISMA Foundation and the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB) and organizations linked to this network in each of the countries. In Panama the production was done in collaboration with the Embera Wounaan General Congress, in Nicaragua with the Government of the Mayangna Nation and in Honduras with MASTA on the one hand and the Federation of Agroforestry Producers of Honduras (FEPROAH) on the other. The videos are all available in Spanish and with English subtitles.

Successful experiences

The series brings together different experiences from Central American community organizations and indigenous peoples in their historical efforts to take advantage of the forest resources with which they have customarily lived. This linking of communities and indigenous peoples to forest resources has effectively become the best guarantee for the preservation of natural resources, compared to other conservation models that attempt to isolate these areas of their local populations. Thus, compared to the degradation processes of numerous conservation areas, the Central American evidence overwhelmingly shows that forests that have been maintained owe their survival to indigenous peoples and organized communities that have been able to guarantee their own livelihoods while protecting the natural environment.

Nonetheless, these processes are not free of difficulties and risks, and, in order to be truly successful, communities and indigenous peoples must have real long-term rights recognized by the state over their territories. This implies, for example, having property titles that guarantee the communities’ and peoples’ territorial resources. Even after holding these titles, the indigenous peoples and communities must still fight against continued encroachment by other population groups with production practices that destroy forests, such as converting the land into pasture for cattle or using it for timber extraction.

The Central American experience of community management of forest resources places the region within the main areas of international debate on the best ways to conserve and protect natural resources. The videos try to account for the Central American communities’ and indigenous peoples’ proposals that are serving as inspiration in many other parts of the world.

The titling of lands: a basic guarantee

The Miskito people organized as MASTA, in Honduras, advance in demanding the state grant them land titles, the main guarantee for the conservation of forest resources.

Directing and Script: Ernest Cañada; Camera and Editing: Riders Mejía; Field Production: Orlando Calderon, Miquel Echeverría and Débora Sánchez (Masta); Collaboration: Andrew Davis and öscar Díaz (Fundación PRISMA); Executive Production: Susan Kandel and Nelson Cuéllar (Fundación PRISMA); Music: Pedro Velásquez, “Titán Manira” (Masta, all rights reserved).

Experiences of community forestry

Gualaca and Guata communities in the department of Olancho, Honduras, members of the Federation of Agroforestry Producers of Honduras (FEPROAH), have managed to transform a scene of forest resource destruction by industrial concessions and furtive extractors, which was also destroying their livelihoods, into a successful model of community forest management.

Directing and script: Ernest Cañada; Camera and Editing: Riders Mejía; Field Production: Carlos Edgardo Rico (Feproah); Collaboration: Andrew Davis (Fundación PRISMA); Executive Production: Susan Kandel & Nelson Cuéllar ((Fundación PRISMA); Músic: Ramón Lozano.

Another outstanding experience was found in the Embera Wounaan Region, Panama, where indigenous peoples are advancing in the implementation of sustainable forest management that stems from their own worldview and culture. 

Director and storyline: Ernest Cañada; Filming and editing: Riders Mejía; Field production: Franklin Mezúa (COONAPIP); Executive production: Susan Kandel & Nelson Cuéllar (PRISMA Foundation); Collaboration: Betanio Chiquidama, William Barrigón, Cándido Mezúa, Rubén Pasos, Óscar Díaz, Marvin Sotelo; Emberá translation: Neila Banuvio; English translation: Susan Kandel & Andrew Davis; Music: Miguel Flaco.

Territorial Reorganization


The mayangna people in Nicaragua have been the guardians of forest resources in the nine territories they inhabit, where more than 75 communities live. However, the encroachment of settler groups threatens to destroy the forest and the livelihoods of the mayangna people, highlighting the need for the Nicaraguan government to advance the implementation the indigenous peoples’ rights through territorial reorganization.

Directing and Script: Ernest Cañada; Camera and Editing: Riders Mejía; Field Production: Julia Vanega Salazar & Solki Poveda (Mayangna Nation Techical Team); Collaboration: Andrew Davis (Fundación PRISMA); Executive Production: Susan Kandel & Nelson Cuéllar (Fundación PRISMA); Music: Salvador Cardenal ("Canción del juego", "No podrán", "Verde verdad", "Tú eres la esperanza", from the album "Verde Verdad").


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