DOMINIQUE IRVINE is Consulting Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department, Stanford University. After completing her Masters in Forestry and Environmental Studies at the Yale Forestry School (MFS 1978), her Ph.D. in Ecological Anthropology from Stanford University in 1987, and a postdoctoral fellowship with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, she worked for six years with Cultural Survival, Inc. Her approach has been to join forces with indigenous peoples (principally in Latin America) to build on their traditional knowledge as they adapt to the rapid political and economic changes that threaten their cultures and their environmental resources. Toward this end, her research and publications have documented traditional ecological knowledge and use, including indigenous management of rainforest habitats, and its impact on the forest. As Indigenous Resource Management Program Director (and later as Field Program Director) with Cultural Survival, she oversaw projects with indigenous peoples in Latin America and Asia on issues of land rights, organizational strengthening, resource management, and marketing. She also helped to found and served as a member of the Board of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international accrediting body that strives to promote environmentally, socially, and economically sound management of the world's forests through forest product certification. Most recently she has been teaching at Stanford University and is working to develop IMP (the Information Map Project), a multimedia distributed database on local communities, conservation and development, which is planned as an information resource for communities, NGOs, and researchers.
Since the early 1970s, the Amazonian province of Napo has been at the heart of major development efforts that transformed Ecuador into an OPEC nation. Infrastructure development and subsequent colonization in Napo have contributed to Ecuador's status as one of the countries with the highest rates of deforestation in South America. Formerly relatively isolated, the indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon responded to these transformations by developing an independent indigenous organizational structure that is among the strongest and most vocal in South America. This paper documents the current status of cultural and biological diversity in Napo Province, addresses the evidence for historical co-existence, and outlines the processes in place that now pose threats to both the linguistic and cultural diversity of the region, as well as to its biodiversity. Finally, I make recommendations for researchers from diverse backgrounds to help counter these processes of cultural and ecological decay in the most effective way.
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