MLR Forestal and the Mayangna Arungka Matumbak Indigenous Territorial Government (GTI) took a further step in the realization of the Relationship Agreement by holding a working session in December 2020 with authorities from the Pansuhwas, Mukuswás and Ispayulilna communities in Bonanza.
This agreement introduces a new dynamic of understanding between a private company and neighboring indigenous communities under the vision of intercultural social responsibility promoted by MLR Forestal, and which can serve as an example of a relationship of respect and mutual support with the indigenous territorial governments of the Autonomous Region of the North Caribbean.
Mutumgbak is one of the 8 Mayangna territories of the North Caribbean Coast and is made up of nine indigenous communities. Three of them: Pansuhwas, Mukuswás and Ispayulilna are located a few kilometers from the MLR Forestal plantations in Bonanza.
The formalization of relationships with nearby communities
In 2017, MLR and the GTI-Matumbak signed a framework agreement to delineate collaboration ties in the implementation of projects of the strategic plan for the development of indigenous territory. On that occasion, the Regional Government of the North Caribbean acted as an observer and mediator of the agreements reached.
This first agreement in 2017 was intended to support various projects for water sanitation, education, land use planning, and the restoration and conservation of natural resources. This agreement laid the foundations on which the relationship agreement is being drawn up.
Although the socio-political situation did not allow much progress in 2018, in 2019 actions were resumed, among which the carrying out of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), which included the GTI Matumbak, and two meetings throughout the year to consult on the guidelines for the relationship of MLR Forestal with the indigenous communities
The Community Relations and Mutual Cooperation Agreement with the GTI Matumbak is intended to formalize and strengthen the recognition of rights, mutual respect and governance among the territorial authorities of Matumbak, the Pansuhwas, Mukuswás and Ispayulilna communities and MLR Forestal de Nicaragua for the next five years (2021 to 2025).
The agreement also includes establishing mechanisms for collaboration and mutual responsibilities; as well as defining activities so that MLR Forestal can contribute to improving the standard of living mainly of the three neighboring communities, notwithstanding the support that can be provided to the rest of the communities in the territory. Everything is done through activities that respect their self-government, their customs and in harmony with productive practices that guarantee them income, in a way that helps the communities solve the different problems they face.
Throughout the process, the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the Bio-protocol has been followed, prepared by the community and always following the guidelines of the recognized leaders, who are responsible for communication between MLR and the communities. MLR does not intervene in community decision-making and respects the authority conferred by communities on community leaders.
Meeting with community leaders
As part of this process of ongoing dialogue and negotiation, a working session was held in December of last year with the participation of representatives of the communities, the Matumbak territory and MLR Forestal.
“Without a doubt, the most relevant part of that work session was to resume direct communication with the communal authorities of Pansuhwas, Mukuswas and Ispayulilna, which are the communities where the action of the agreement or the MLR Forestal relationship guidelines with the Matumbak territory will focus”. Explained Luis López, manager of Sustainable Development at MLR Forestal.
In 2018, contact with the leaders was intermittent due to the socio-political situation, and in 2020 due to the pandemic, but it has resumed strongly as a result of the two hurricanes that hit the North Caribbean last November. To continue guaranteeing social distancing and prevention measures against the pandemic, at the meeting the communities were represented by their elected leaders, the Wistah and the Trustee of each of the three communities.
Next step, present it to the Communal Assemblies for approval
The next step is to bring the proposed Community Relations and Mutual Cooperation agreement with the Matumbak Indigenous Territorial Government (GTI) to the Communal Assembly for discussion and approval. The Communal Assemblies will be held between the second half of January and the first half of February.
“In the community governance system, the determining authority that makes decisions is the Communal Assembly, which is made up of all members of the community, ”explains López.
Main points of the work plan 2021 – 2025
“The work route was formulated in conjunction with the territorial authorities and their technical teams, was approved by them and is being implemented as established,” said López.
As part of this route, a work plan was established and approved in one of the meetings with the community representatives. This is based on six main axes:
- Institutional Strengthening of the Territorial and Communal Authorities of Pansuhwas, Mukuswas and Ispayulilna.
- Consolidation of Property Rights.
- Improve the standard of living of the Communities in harmony with their productive practices.
- Promotion of Community Afforestation, Reforestation and Regeneration of the Forest in Affected and Degraded Areas.
- Risk management and reduction
- Training of Youth and Women.
The education and empowerment of young people and women is a priority for the Mayangna communities, therefore, the agreement includes that complementary contributions be made to the training of capacities in young men and women of the communities. In this sense, MLR Forestal will provide technical assistance and training for the inhabitants of the communities to establish agroforestry and cocoa nurseries and technical assistance for their management.
Hurricanes modified the work plan
As a result of the recent passage of hurricanes Iota and Eta that made landfall in communities in the North Caribbean in November, some of the activities established in the 2021 work plan will have to be adapted to current needs.
“For example, if we are going to establish nurseries, then we will have to include native trees in the nurseries to recover areas affected by hurricanes; and one of the activities for 2021 is to reforest with timber trees that MLR can contribute, ”said López.
Vision of MLR Forestal in line with the relationship agreement
The objective of MLR Forestal is the use of forest species (teak) in association with cocoa, through the recovery of degraded lands that it turns into agroforestry plantations. As well as being an investment that boosts the economy of the area, it contributes to the conservation of soils and natural resources, the capture of carbon and the establishment of corridors that facilitate biological connectivity.
Therefore, according to the agreement, MLR will ensure the protection and management of water sources within its properties. It will also continue to adequately manage the waste generated by its productive activity, avoiding environmental externalities and reducing risks of contamination due to the use of chemicals. For their part, the communal and territorial authorities will complement the protection of the water sources of the micro-basins in their territory.