Photos released by the Peruvian government confirm the presence of illegal clearings in the Kaguapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve (KNNR). The KNNR was created in 1990 in an effort to protect the territorial rights of the Nahua and Nanti, who had limited contact with the outside world. The creation of the Reserve was based primarily on contact between the Nahua and on-going logging operations that eventually killed over half of the Nahua population. Today, the peoples living between the Purus and Manu river basins (Nahua and Nanti) have the opportunity to choose the level of contact with outside world, including complete isolation, open contact, and non-solicited contact.
The clearings (seven in total) are located on lands where Pluspetrol, an oil and gas exploration firm, hope to drill up to 21 wells. While the Peruvian Ministry of Energy approved three wells, and allowed the company to develop clearings (0.24ha) for an Enviornmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the clearings themselves, regardless of approval, are illegal under international and Peruvian law.
As the Mountain Forum noted, “Yet the indigenous peoples in ‘voluntary isolation’ in the KNNR have neither given their consent to, nor been consulted about, Pluspetrol’s expansion plans. Indeed, not only is it impossible to secure their informed consent for such projects but any attempt to contact them in order to seek such consent could kill many of them via epidemics because of their lack of immunological defenses.”
In addition, “Pluspetrol admits in this EIA that contact with the indigenous peoples in ‘voluntary isolation’ is ‘probable’ during its operations, that such people in general are highly vulnerable to contact and ‘massive deaths’ can occur as a result, and that the impacts of its expansion on them will be, or could be, considerable for a wide variety of reasons.”
Map Credit: Dora A Napolitano and Aliya S S Ryan