Professional Development for Youth: the “Cameras and Environment” program

We worked with local youth to build their communication skills as a way to provide professional development in their home communities. This was a priority identified in almost all of the Quality of Life Plans in the regions in Perú where we worked. To achieve this objective, we implemented a ten-month training program in audiovisual media production in four communities (Brillo Nuevo, Pucaurquillo Bora, Pucaurquillo Murui Tierra Firme) in the buffer zone of Ampiyacu-Apayacu Regional Conservation Area and three communities (Callería, Patria Nueva, and Nuevo Saposoa) in the buffer zone of Zona Reservada Sierra del Divisor, with over 50 participating young people.

The training program was led by Peruvian cinematographers Fernando Valdivia and Ronald Suárez and facilitated by then post doctoral Field Museum fellow Galia Selaya and training fellow Tulio Dávila. We discovered that even with minimal training (three workshops and follow-up support), young people from the communities were able to produce compelling short documentaries, each with a unique theme that they created themselves. Not only did the effort engage the core 20 trainees selected by community members, but they in turn engaged others in their community to be actors and help out with the filming. When we donated the cameras to the communities, the residents were thrilled that they would be able to continue to produce videos and tell their own stories. As evident from the videos, the young people are concerned about how western urban influence is corroding cultural values, but they also highlight the existence of local strengths such as the enforcement of local laws, traditional ecological knowledge, and community organization and decision making.

Most importantly, the participants discovered their leadership skills. They found they could direct, film, and edit their own videos. At least a few young people in every community expressed the desire to continue developing these skills and to lead their communities toward sustainable natural resource management. It is our hope that with continued support from our Peruvian collaborators, the skills they have gained can be translated into stable ways of developing small-scale income generation (through eco-tourism or communication about their extension work, for example) without forcing them to leave their homelands.

Ampiyacu watershed, buffer zone of Regional Conservation Area Ampiyacu-Apayacu

CCNN Brillo Nuevo: “Traditional techniques for managing Chambira palm” This video showcases best practices to manage and use chambira palm (Astrocaryum chambira) for local handcraft production. It also stresses the need to communicate to outsiders the cultural, traditional, and environmental value of the palm for subsistence livelihoods, and the importance of women as family income providers.


CCNN Pucaurquillo Bora: “Rescuing the Bora Language” This video centers on attempts by village elders to ensure that young people continue to speak Bora as they are increasingly attracted to mass media and popular culture. The video speaks to the importance of language for maintenance of a strong cultural identity.


CCNN Pucaurquillo Murui: “Community Vigilance Strategies for Forest Protection” This video highlights the importance of local involvement in forest stewardship and the challenges presented by corruption and weak law enforcement.


CCNN Tierra Firme: “Creating the Community Vigilance Committee” The theme of this video centers on how community members decided to protect their oxbow lakes from overfishing and exploitation in order to secure fish for present and future generations.

Callería watershed, buffer zone of Reserved Zone Sierra del Divisor

Four community videos were produced:

CCNN Callería: “Jisma, the Rebel” The video portrays the story of Jisma, who breaks community resource-use laws, and highlight the importance of local agreements for forest management. It shows that community members are organized to enforce forest stewardship and ready to punish the ones tempted to break local rules.


CCNN Patria Nueva: “The Mestizo Teacher” The video tells the story of a Shipibo teacher who went away to the city and now wants the students to only speak Spanish in the classroom. The students reject his ideas in favor of maintaining their Shipibo mother tongue.


CCNN Saposoa: “The Hunter” This video highlights how illegal and large-scale hunting for market threatens local livelihoods.