ACT’s collaborative mapping work commenced in 1999 in Suriname’s rainforest interior, with more than ten million acres of traditional lands mapped in partnership with the Trio people of the communities of Kwamalasamutu and Tepu. In 2005, with the Wayana community centered on the village of Apetina, more than five million additional acres were mapped. Subsequently, between 2009 and 2011, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, and the full support of the government, we were the executing agency for a landmark project to guide the country’s indigenous and Maroon communities in the mapping and demarcation of most of the indigenous and native lands in Suriname, with the ultimate objective being land rights for these forest communities. By the end of this endeavor, ACT and its indigenous and Maroon partners had mapped 90% of Suriname’s indigenous and Maroon lands, constituting almost two-thirds of Suriname’s area.
Most recently, beginning in 2014, we have been supporting the development of cultural land-zoning maps by the Matawai Maroon population along the Saramacca River, establishing the basis for sound community development decision-making by community leaders. We have trained 30 Matawai representatives to conduct participatory land use mapping using GPS technology, and together the team mapped approximately 100 kilometers of river stretch, documenting local names for landscape features and historically and culturally significant sites.