EXPLOITING THE AMAZON: GREEN INFRASTRUCTURES AS OPPORTUNITY
(1) Infographic Biosphere Reserve ∙ Reserves vs Blocks © Jackeline González R. for LOFscapes. Own elaboration based on cartography and information from the Ministry of the Environment of Ecuador. Raster Display Google photographs
The exploitation of natural resources in conservation areas worldwide is a complex issue to address, both in terms of the impacts these productive activities generate and in terms of the actions that can remedy or recover areas that are affected by these activities. In this context, the Yasuní National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon is a natural territory affected by oil exploration and exploitation, a situation of importance worldwide as construction of an access to Block 31 has been a focus of discussion in recent years.
The landscape of the Yasuní in the Amazon is suffering an ecological, cultural and productive emergency, mainly due to two conditions: first, the negative effects of the petroleum industry on the natural cycle of these territories and second, as an emergent landscape (1) so-called because of the diverse findings and new elements or systems arising from anthropic activities.
(1) Osvaldo Moreno “Paisajes en emergencia: transformación, adaptación, resiliencia”(Landscapes in emergency: transformation, adaptation, resilience) (Revista INVI Vol 30, No 83., 2015).
In landscapes with high economic pressure it is important to recognize and value their character as green infrastructure to protect them from indiscriminate exploitation. Thus, understanding them as natural spaces of great value for the environmental services they provide to the human population, it is possible to justify their care within the same productive language. Based on this idea of productive language, the application of the concept of green infrastructure to study rural and wild territories will allow the implementation of strategies that activate and enhance the landscape as a support for socio-ecological systems: a reclamation of these as such (2). Although, from the perspective of the French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, the notion of landscape infrastructure (3) focuses on the benefit of these structures in the field of urban development, the concept can also be applied to processes of recovery and activation in an extreme territory such as the Yasuní. Strategies such as edge revegetation, fauna passageways, and buffer zones can be put into place, and structures consolidated through landscape architecture initiatives can be used to favor the connectivity of fragmented zones. To increase the effectiveness of these strategies, all the influential aspects of development should be addressed including productive, ecological, biological, social among others.
(2) “Reclamation: (In recycling) Restoration of materials found in the waste stream to a beneficial use which may be for purposes other than the original use.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, en http://www.ecologydictionary.org/reclamation
(3) M. Mostafavi & G. Doherty, Urbanismo Ecológico (2014).
Territories exploited by productive processes and the use of resources for economic development are realities of communities and society. For this reason, these scenarios need to be considered as opportunities to study, approach and project strategies that can anticipate these impacts as much as possible. Then, the conservation of these territories in the future will depend on our capacity to project and strengthen practices that benefit the development and resilience of the natural ecosystems and the pristine landscapes that still remain.
Jackeline González Redrován. Architect of the Catholic University of Ecuador, 2012. Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (2016). Currently, she is teaching at the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Catholic University of Cuenca.