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In a remarkable act of conservation, empowerment and belonging, Guyra Paraguay, has transferred 548 hectares of land to the Indigenous Community of Tapy Kanguekua - Arroyo Morotí, belonging to the Mbya Guaraní people in the Itapúa Department of Paraguay.

This momentous transfer was officially celebrated on Monday, June 5th, at Tekoha Guazu, known to non-indigenous people as the San Rafael National Park Reserve, located in the district of Alto Verá. This place was declared the second Important Bird and Biodioversity Area (IBA) in the Americas back in 2005 by BirdLife International.

Ten years ago, Guyra Paraguay acquired these lands from a private landholder for environmental conservation purposes thanks to the support of BirdLife International, the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation and Hans Swegen, who played a crucial role in facilitating the land acquisition.

Now, the land title is transfer back to its original guardians and owners. It is the first time a private entity has taken such approach to honour the ancestral land rights of indigenous people in the country. This agreement is a testament to their unwavering dedication to the cause of preserving the natural heritage.

The Federation for the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples (FAPI) and the Association of Indigenous Communities of Itapúa Department (Acidi) attended this emotive event- where they played a vital role in guaranteeing and supporting this transfer.

The Mbya Guaraní Community is an active member of Acidi, which, in turn, is part of the autonomous and representative Federation for the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples (FAPI), an organization comprising 13 indigenous groups in Paraguay. Their cultural heritage and profound connection to the land make this transfer even more meaningful.

This broad collaboration has not only protected these lands but also empowered the Mbya Guaraní people to reclaim their ancestral heritage and ensure the sustainability of this precious site for generations to come. Several globally threatened birds will also be highly benefited from this milestone. Moreover, protecting this land also contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Guyra Paraguay acquired this land as part of a joint socio-environmental condominium, always considering that its full ownership would be transferred to the mentioned indigenous community.

Threats like illegal logging and fires are still a concern in this area. However, thanks to assisting and empowering the community to cultivate Organic Shade Grown Yerba Mate and other friendly agroforestry sustainable livelihoods, as well as forming a community wildfire brigade and employing members of the community as park rangers, the integrity of this life sanctuary will remain healthy for present and future generations. 

Today, we celebrate the realization of this promise!

“It gives us great joy to see how our support for Guyra Paraguay has contributed to developing a collaborative relationship with the Arroyo Moroti community. At BirdLife International, we understand and believe in the fundamental role that indigenous communities and nationalities play as custodians of forests, rivers, nature, birds, and biodiversity. We want to work together to recognize and empower these communities as the ancestral owners and guardians of these sites.”

Michael Seager, BirdLife Americas Forest Program Manager.

I was fortunate to attend a historic transfer of land ownership from our Hempel Foundation BirdLife International partner Asociación Guyra Paraguay to the Indigenous Mbya Guaraní People of Paraguay. Clearly, such transfer of land does not come without risks and require long term commitments from all stakeholders involved, but indigenous communities are key for any sustainable solution to sustaining biodiversity in these areas. Well done Asociación Guyra Paraguay and Arroyo Morotí. A huge congrats to all involved and the funders that made it possible.”

Casper Thaning Thulstrup, Head of International Strategic Development & Quality at Hempel Foundation