About

The Sanctuary

We seek to create a natural and cultural sanctuary in the Gran Chaco Ecoregion where the knowledge and cultural traditions of indigenous peoples can thrive in a protected and sustainably managed territory. We want the young generations of indigenous families to be proud of their cultural heritage and to be included in the global society.

sanctuary-01
Print

Why do we need a sanctuary

We aim to create a sanctuary in the Gran Chaco because we see the emergency to protect biodiversity and cultural diversity in this strategic ecoregion.

Indigenous people are chased from their native lands. Without the Forest, they are condemned to live in extreme poverty in city suburbs. 

Cultural diversity is key for humanity and for enhancing and protecting ecosystems and its biodiversity. The cultural inheritances of these indigenous groups have been seriously altered and their knowledge is not being transmitted to the new generations.

We intend to start to protect these territories, empower communities to regain their relationship with the natural world and their territories by securing it and collaborating with them to develop reforestation and biodiversity. This is why we intended to promote and create spaces of their traditional knowledge preservation and wisdom. As an elderly man told us some time ago: “Any culture, as any star, no matter how small this is, becomes essential to the universe”.

Current situation

The collective territories in the Argentinean Chaco are being systematically exploited and expropriated. Biodiversity of the ecosystem is collapsing and mostly on the verge of extinction. So are the many indigenous traditions and cultures that inhabited this area for many centuries. Bulldozers are a common sight in the north of Argentina’s landscape. In the Argentine “Gran Chaco”— South America’s largest forest after the Amazon —, deforestation has eaten away relentlessly at the native forests, including areas that should be protected under the country’s 2007 forest law. The Gran Chaco accounts for 87% of total deforestation in Argentina. About 5 million hectares (12.4 million acres) was destroyed in the first two decades of the 21st century.
sanctuary-02

Logging within the Gran Chaco, driven by the industries that, just like in the Amazon, seek to acquire land for agricultural and livestock activities has decreased somewhat in recent years, but is far from stopping.


The Argentine Gran Chaco suffers from a wide variety of issues, but deforestation is considered its most severe problem. The risks of its deforestation include the destruction of habitats, changes to the natural characteristics of the soil, alterations in the forest’s hydrological and climatic dynamics, and even the social and economic collapse of communities around the forest (that need the Forest to satisfy basic needs like food or medicinal plants). Current trends suggest that these risks to ecosystems will continue as the agricultural and livestock frontier expands.

“Without forests, there is no wichi...”
Said Juan de Dios Lopez, a member of the Wichi indigenous community in Salta province.

For the indigenous communities in rural areas, the forest is the source of food, raw material, timber and fruits to feed their livestock and medicine. From a social perspective, the main consequence is the abandonment of their forests. The possibilities of survival are getting slimmer. People are displaced and cornered in strongholds with no options to raise their animals, becoming dependent on the pensions or payments they receive from the government. Surrounded by barbed wire, they often also have serious problems with their access to water. When there is no other solution, the destination is often the suburbs of towns and cities, where many Indigenous people arrive after having lost their territory, customs, forests and pieces of their culture. In general, they face a difficult adaptation to a societal system that tends to marginalize them. The most prevalent emotion of all those produced by the continuous and permanent clearing of the Argentine Gran Chaco is always sadness. The concrete situation is that these families are pushed to an extreme poverty existence.
Malnutrition, illness, displacements and environmental disasters are the aboriginal experiences of the advancing agrarian frontier.

Recover a collective ownership of the lands

Alianza Wichi’s main mission consists of supporting indigenous organizations to recover the collective ownership of their lands, and possibly expanding this area to a significant area in Argentina.

We intend to create a natural and cultural sanctuary a refuge for local cultures and a natural reserve where biodiversity can thrive again.
Collective land ownership is central to the indigenous struggle against deforestation and to social and environmental sustainability. Wichí and more than fifteen other cultural groups (Chorote, Nivacle, Guaraní, Qom, Pilagá, Chané, Mocoví, Weenhayek) of the Argentinean Chaco region struggle for collective land ownership undermines the individualistic mantra of ‘private property’ of capitalist social relations.

Through land acquisition and collective management according to indigenous principles, we believe we can quickly rewild and regenerate lands that have been spoiled by years of extractive agriculture using pesticides.

sanctuary-03

“Any culture, as any star, no matter how small this is,
becomes essential to the universe”

The plan

We want to connect indigneous knowledge and techniques with global society, researchers, universities and the world’s regeneration movement, by creating an open space of connectivity and shared knowledges, values and love for humanity and nature. Our mantra is: “Cultural diversity and biodiversity thrive together”.
We will begin the regeneration process of the community’s territory, exploring the diverse techniques of reforesting the destroyed areas and biodiversity. Using agroforestry techniques, we want to plant edible forests and bio intensive crops, as well as recovering medicinal plants. Other projects will be launched in the benefit of all communities such as: a seed bank of endangered specimens, a tree nursery, drinking water supply or crop irrigation.
Captura de Pantalla 2021-06-09 a la(s) 22.04.17

By supporting Alianza Wichi, you join a global community of solidarity who believe Culture and Nature can thrive together. But above all, you will participate in the active regeneration of the Gran Chaco Region, a key Ecoregion in the heart of Latin America.