On March 14, 2016, the Arhuaco community of Colombia consolidated a new mapping system to continue safeguarding a recent expansion of their community lands. In 2015, the Arhuaco people secured an important territorial expansion from 100,000 to 380,000 hectares, spurred in part by an unexpected legal victory in a prior Constitutional court case involving the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Since the legal decision also applies to safeguarding indigenous territories from more than 400 extractive projects currently being requested in the region, the Arhuacos have developed specific legal and technical tools—including a geo-referencing mechanism—to monitor extractive and infrastructure development projects that threaten their lands. The new mapping system outlines 60 layers of information, allowing community members not only to monitor potential development impacts, but also to design subsequent strategies to defend their ancestral lands and preserve their cultural integrity.

Read more (in Spanish) about the project here.