“Desecrated Land. The Impact of Megaprojects on the Indigenous Territories in Colombia “Tierra Profanada. Impacto de los Megaproyectos en los Territorios Indígenas en Colombia”) is a study conducted by HREV at the request of the National Authority for Indigenous Government, ONIC.

Origin of the project

“Tierra Profanada. Grandes proyectos en territorios indígenas de Colombia” (“Desecrated Land. Major projects in Colombia’s indigenous territories”) published in 1995, was a joint project by ONIC, CECOIN (Centre of Support for Indigenous Peoples – Colombia) and the German University of Kassel.

The study was structured around three major thematic areas: forests, hydroelectric projects and industrial mining in indigenous territories. Different Colombian and German academics as well as indigenous leaders contributed to each of them, approaching the subject from their various areas of expertise.

There is no doubt that ‘Tierra Profanada’ has been an important reference work throughout the last decade.

Desecrated Land 2

15 years later, the joint HREV–ONIC project seeks to revisit the same issue with the perspective granted by the passage of time between the publication of the first study, and this. Although the idea at the beginning was to produce a synthetic study devoted to megaprojects in indigenous territories, in the style of ‘Tierra Profanada’, this soon changed to one of producing short monographs devoted to each megaproject and its impact on the indigenous peoples affected and their territories.

In the first phase, three such monographs were produced, on the legal framework for indigenous peoples’ rights, and on two megaprojects – the oil and gas industry and illicit crops.


Legal framework · Oil & gas industry · Illicit crops · Minning


The “Tierra Profanada” (“Desecrated Land”) of 1995 had a holistic focus, analysing the issue, both geographically and thematically, at varying levels of detail (from global problems to very specific case studies), the “Desecrated Land” of 2008 has been conceived as a diagnostic tool, to establish the scale of the impact (both qualitatively and quantitatively) of megaprojects on indigenous peoples and their territories in Colombia.  Its structure means that it can be updated quickly and easily.

Presentation of the studies at the Latin American Forum and Final Indigenous Hearing, Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal.  Valledupar and Atánquez (17-19 July 2008).  Photos:  Paco Gómez Nadal



The series will continue with the publication of a new study on the mining megaproject.

We are studying the possibility of updating (through a 2nd edition) the monographs on the oil and gas industry and illicit crops.  Furthermore, we are continuing to work on and update the project through the Desecrated Land Atlas.



Desecrated Land Atlas

This Atlas is a parallel project which has ended up taking on a life of its own, and it lives and is developing on our site.

The atlas began almost by accident, without being planned or preconceived. Given the sheer number of maps produced for the Desecrated Land 2 project, they were begging to be gathered together and stored to form an Atlas…A virtual atlas!  For the moment it is a collection of maps on the internet.

Its aim is exactly the same as for the first maps of the ‘Desecrated Land 2’ project when they were conceived and produced: to help illustrate, in a graphic and georeferenced way, the spatial effects and the impacts of megaprojects on indigenous peoples and their territories in Colombia.

You can consult and download the maps at our gallery maps on .

llustration: Angie Vanessita Cárdenas · Angie Cárdenas Design

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