Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Our Mission: Background Philosophy The Amazon rainforest has the largest concentration of animal and plant life in the world. It is also home to hundreds of indigenous groups and tens of thousands of other people who make their living in the forest. The biggest challenge and opportunity for the Amazon is to transform the vision of development that impacts its water, land, plants, animals and people. The current model promotes the production of mass commodities. The new model needs to focus on sustaining diverse human and other biological communities. One important path to creating a sustainable future for the Amazon is to strengthen its traditional communities. People who have strong c...

Center for Amazon Community Ecology
1637 B North Atherton St. #90
State College, Pennsylvania 16803
United States
8142385148
http://www.amazonecology.org

Founder & Executive Director

Campbell Plowden

Management Team

Yully Rojas Reategui, Angel Raygada

Board of Directors

James C Plowden, Michael Gilmore, James Finley, Katherine Alden, Audrey Maretzki

Project Leaders

Campbell Plowden

Mission

Our Mission: Background Philosophy The Amazon rainforest has the largest concentration of animal and plant life in the world. It is also home to hundreds of indigenous groups and tens of thousands of other people who make their living in the forest. The biggest challenge and opportunity for the Amazon is to transform the vision of development that impacts its water, land, plants, animals and people. The current model promotes the production of mass commodities. The new model needs to focus on sustaining diverse human and other biological communities. One important path to creating a sustainable future for the Amazon is to strengthen its traditional communities. People who have strong cultural identity, secure control of their land, intimate knowledge of their resources, and fair partnerships to develop their local economy will be strong defenders of the rainforest for the benefit of us all. Mission The Center for Amazon Community Ecology's mission is to promote the understanding, conservation, and sustainable development of human and other biological communities in the Amazon region. Goals Our main goals are to: 1. Study the ecology, sustainable harvest and marketing of tropical forest products. 2. Assist forest-based peoples to sustain local resources and strengthen their communities. 3. Help connect Amazon communities with partners in the U.S. and elsewhere to support forest conservation and other local development goals. Strategies The main strategies for achieving our goals are research, community support, and education. This will include investigating the ecology and sustainable harvest of non-timber forest products (like resins, fruits and fibers) and assisting indigenous and other forest-based communities to manage and market them to support local development and conservation. This will require reaching out to and connecting many people and communities in the Amazon and abroad. The Center promotes conservation and development that will sustain diverse human and other biological communities in the Amazon region. We specifically wish to improve the understanding of Amazon ecology, help strengthen the region's traditional communities, and educate the public about key Amazon environmental concerns. Our programs will focus primarily on researching the ecology, and promoting the sustainable harvest and marketing of non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Indigenous and other traditional people collect thousands of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) for food, medicine, construction, and other purposes. These products include fruits, fibers, resins, oils and a variety of animal products. Forest people use many NTFPs in their daily lives and sell some to buy goods not available in the forest. Helping communities to sustainably harvest and sometimes market NTFPs can, therefore, help enhance their cultural traditions, local economy and forest conservation. Supporting peoples' intimate knowledge and use of plants for traditional medicines reinforces the connection between healthy forests and a community's well-being. People who can harvest fruit, fish and game meat are less likely to burn forest to raise cattle or cash crops to buy other foods from the city. People can sell NTFPs as one way to buy basic necessities and help local development projects. Self-sufficient communities are better able to resist accepting outside proposals that bring in short-term cash at the expense of their environment. There are ecological and other challenges to sustainably and profitably havesting NTFPs. Growing communities can easily overharvest NTPFs that commonly used in their daily lives or collected for commercial purposes. It is also not easy to make a good profit harvesting and selling NTFPs. It may be too difficult or expensive for remote communities to send some products to market. Harvesters that sell raw or slightly processed NTFPs receive very little money for their products. The Center will help forest-based communities in the Amazon address these and related challenges through three main program areas: Research, Community Support, and Education and Outreach. Research projects will investigate the ecological, social, and economic aspects of culturally and commercially important NTFPs in the Amazon region. Community Support projects will help partner communities develop specific management and marketing programs for NTFPs and provide support for other local development projects. Education and Outreach programs will publicize current Amazon ecology and community issues, create partnerships with Amazon community groups, and enlist public support for Center programs and goals.

Programs

The Center for Amazon Community Ecology (CACE) promotes conservation of human and biological communities in the Amazon region through research, community support and educational programs. Our programs aim to assist indigenous and other traditional peoples to sustainably harvest and market non-timber forest products (NTFPs) as alternatives to activities that damage natural forests, reduce biodiversity, and decrease human sustainability. Since 2006, CACE has been conducting the Copal Research Project - a study of the ecology and sustainable harvest of copal resin at the Jenaro Herrera field station on the Ucayali River in Peru operated by the Institute for the Investigation of the Peruvian Amazon (IIAP). While forest peoples throughout the Amazon mostly use copal resin as a cheap material to caulk wooden boats, its aromatic properties give it greater potential as a value-added product. Our studies have shown that resin lumps collected by people are formed on select copal species by the larvae of a few species of weevils that bore into their inner bark to feed. We are monitoring natural resin lump growth, observing resin build-up after human harvest and measuring resin yield through manual wounding experiments. We began working directly with native communities in 2009 to design systems to sustainably harvest copal that also considers social and economic factors. The Ampiyacu Project promotes forest conservation in the Peruvian Amazon through sustainable non-timber forest products (NTFPs) harvest and sale by indigenous communities near the 433,000 ha Ampiyacu-Apayacu Regional Conservation Area. It is working with Bora and other native communities in this high biodiversity region to: 1) sustainably harvest wild plants used for making value-added products, 2) promote enrichment planting of priority NTFPs, 3) produce essential oils from aromatic plants, 4) create innovative high-quality handicrafts from local plants with traditional weaving techniques, and 5) build artisan and community capacity to market these products as alternatives to economic activities that damage natural forests. Beyond investigating copal, CACE has bought a variety of plant-based jewelry, bags, baskets and decorative items from Bora and other traditional communities in northern Peru and supported their creation of innovative handicrafts. CACE purchase of these crafts primarily benefits women artisans and may reduce their need to clear natural forest for cash crops. As we sell these crafts at presentations and craft fairs in the U.S., we educate the public about Amazon people, plants and places and earmark 20% of the proceeds to support local needs in the artisan communities. We have so far dedicated these social rebates to buy/finance basic educational materials and health equipment supplies for the public school system and district health clinic for Jenaro Herrera, school supplies, chairs, palm spear harvest tools, medicines and a bathroom for the village of Chino on the Tahuayo River, and school supplies, medicines and a community pharmacy building in Brillo Nuevo on the Ampiyacu River.

Statistics on Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Financial Statistics

  • Annual Budget for 2011: $49,500
  • Maximum Annual Budget: $49,500
  • Other funding sources: individual donors, foundations, income generating projects,
  • Religious Affiliation: none
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