First community based ecotourism project in the world (1978).
First entirely community based species rescue program in Ecuador (the Amazon Turtle Project, 1990).
First Treaties to recover indigenous ancestral territories within national protected areas via shared administration (Zabalo, 1992).
First community-developed conservation management plans (without outside intervention!) in Ecuador (1993).
First victories over oil company invasion by indigenous peoples in Ecuador (Zabalo, 1991-4).
First indigenously solicited and administered national protected area (Reserva Ecológica Cofan Bermejo).
First government recognition of indigenous park guards and other conservation workers as equals to government park guards, with the same legal powers and jurisdiction in all Cofan territories.
First education system established to develop professional level conservation education of indigenous and mestizo community workers.
Quotes about the Cofan
"In the 1980s, some people thought they'd disappear. They were small, monolingual; they didn't have a strong political structure," said Michael Cepek, a University of Texas anthropologist who has studied the Cofan for 16 years. "Lo and behold, 20 years later, they are not just surviving, they are thriving." - Washington Post - Link to Article
"The Cofan manage six times the land they controlled in the early 1990s, which is particularly impressive because they are not a large community. There are 1,200 of them in Ecuador and 500 across the border in Colombia" - RichmondTimes Dispatch - Link to Full Article