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About us


The name FUNDECOIPA is short for Foundation for Indigenous Community Development in Pastaza (Fundacion para Desarrollo Comunitario Indígena de Pastaza). FUNDECOIPA was founded on the 9th of November 2005 (Ministerial Agreement 403 DP-MBS-P).
We are a community based NGO founded with the aim of creating sustainable development in the indigenous communities of Pastaza. The foundation owns and manages the 2600 acre Arútam Rainforest Reserve and provides tourism, volunteer and research opportunities within the reserve and Shuar community Arútam as well as the surrounding communities.



The Arútam Community

The headquarters of FUNDECOIPA is located in the Arútam community. Arútam means divine force in Shuar and is a small indigenous Shuar community consisting of 6 households and 40 inhabitants. The community located in the Amazon rainforest in the Pastaza province of Ecuador at km 48 on the via Puyo-Macas road.

The villagers in Arútam live a traditional live and are engaged in subsistence farming of especially yucca, plantain, papa china and camote as well as hunting and gathering activities. Some have paid jobs as teachers at a bilingual high school in a neighboring community.

The community is also home to a women’s group called KURINUA. The name means golden women in Shuar and provides micro-credit loans to women in order to start small development projects, raise small livestock as chickens, for education or hospital aid. 

Since year 2000, the villagers in Arútam has been working with volunteers in order to strengthen the work with the protection of the reserve and to create income-generating activities. Together
villagers and volunteers have made Arútam into a small success story, where it has been possible to preserve a huge amount of rainforest, with everything from monkeys to pumas, and orchids to mahogany. The project has also strengthened the culture and traditional knowledge of the Shuar by revitalizing their skills and saving knowledge.

Although the forest enjoys protection it still takes a big effort from the community and the network of volunteers to maintain the project, develop new ideas and expand the activities into the neighboring communities. The long-term goal of  his project is to take care of Arútam and the surrounding communities’ interests and hopefully lay the foundation for the Shuar to continuously manage the forest where they have lived for many


Ernesto "Mayak" Vargas. Director of FUNDECOIPA


Preparing typical Ayampaku cooked in leaves


Working in the garden (chacra)

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