The spirit of communitarianism and the cultural background of the Limoncocha community in the context of sustainable development and environmental protection

The aim of this article is to present the results of ethnographical studies of the Amazonian community Limoncocha (Sucumbíos, Ecuador), considering its cultural background in the context of environmental protection. Our scientific purposes were to examine connections between Limoncochans’ values, lifestyle and objectives in the context of their business goals, which are important for maintaining biodiversity and nature protection in the region. In our research we were interested in the historical, social, economic and cultural conditions that underlie the development of this community. We discuss contemporary attitudes of its inhabitants toward civilizational progress, environmental protection and ways of social organization, as significantly influenced by a unique way of settling down this community – formed by American missionaries from the Summer Institute of Linguistics (Instituto Linguistico de Verano) in the 1950s. The grounded theory methodology was used as an analytical tool for the elaboration of data, and we also implemented triangulation presumptions. We used several techniques of data collection: representative survey among Limoncocha parish inhabitants, over 30 in-depth interviews, photo elicitation interviews, documents’ analyses, and numerous quasi-participant observations. During our research we obtained strong evidence for a connection between the visible spirit of communitarianism and the entrepreneurship activities of locals, both of which affect regional development. Inhabitants represent strong egalitarian tendencies that have a visible impact on their business activities and the economic prospects of Limoncocha. The first representative survey and our observations in this area gave us the possibility to formulate some recommendations for the Ecuadorian government and local authorities for implementation of cooperation with the local community to achieve sustainable economic development protecting the natural environment.