Our stories ... ...
Colombia - 18 January, 2024
Fire, Water, Earth and Air are essential elements to understand our world. Through this short documentary series, produced in collaboration with youths from Solano (Caquetá), we follow in the agency of these elements to discover a series of stories related to Productive Participative Restoration in the Amazon rainforest. The stories take place in the context of participative processes and dialogue of knowledge platforms promoted by Tropenbos Colombia. They allow us to see how local communities are strengthening their territory and promoting a message of restoring nature amidst a devastating panorama of large-scale deforestation that is taking place in the Amazon
Among the key elements in this documentary series is the participative production format in which a group of indigenous and campesino youths share their work. They have been working together in learning communication skills according to their own local necessities and conditions. Since most of the footage in the stories was registered in the communities and homes of these youths, through these series we can come closer to their own view of the territory.
The main character in «Fire» is the vendeagujal, a variety of grass that invades the burnt deforested areas. This grass represents a management challenge for communities, including indigenous’, since it implies a different perspective on fire management. Indigenous communities are used to seeing fire as a beneficial part of their traditional cultivation system but burning the grass just makes it stronger. The story weaves different views of the territory and highlights the surprising restoration of vendeagujal areas allowing the forest and the chagra to grow back and displacing this grass.
«Earth» tells the story of the nurseries growing varieties of trees from the Amazon rainforest. It delves into how they are installed, who works in them and how they operate. The testimonies presented are mainly of indigenous women since they are the natural caregivers of plants. It highlights the relationship of women and the territory as well as their role in restoration. Nurseries are an innovation in indigenous communities since forests used to restore themselves. Therefore, they are an example of the complex relationship between humans and forests, as well as a means to discuss community organization.
The disappearance of water sources is one of the most evident consequences of deforestation. In «Water» we discover that, even if campesino communities are the main agents of deforestation, they coincide with indigenous communities in their concern about the future of water. Both campesinos and indigenous communities have a different comprehension of this element, the river and the role it has for the people living in forests, but at the end water symbolizes life and adaptation. It is also a useful metaphor to explain the flowing relationships required in restoration processes.
Air and wind represent knowledge (both practical and spiritual) in indigenous communities. We may consider they represent the importance of establishing agreements in environmental processes: agreements among families, within communities and among intercultural communities. The story «Air» tells us how the initial distance between indigenous and campesino communities transforms into a constructive dialogue. Today these agreements make a shared vision of the territory possible and provides a common ground to the protection of forests.
This documentary series was produced by Tropenbos Colombia in the frame of Working Landscapes, a program financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Netherlands. It was shown in the film festival Mambe in Florencia (Caquetá) in novemeber 2023. We are very grateful with the youths from the local communication group that participated in the production.