Camino Verde

Camino Verde is a 501-c-3 non-profit organization dedicated to: * Protecting and understanding biodiversity in the Peruvian Amazon. * Protecting indigenous rights, autonomy, and wisdom. * Spreading sustainable ways of life and encouraging fair, sustainable development. Our mission is to plant trees and encourage others to do the same.
Dec 16, 2014

Amazonian holiday cheer

Distilling essential oil in Tambopata, Peru
Distilling essential oil in Tambopata, Peru

Dear friends,

Recently I read that here in the Peruvian Amazon, an illegal thousand-hectare oil palm plantation was detected in satellite images.  (You can read the article here.) Oil palm plantations mean deforestation and tremendous biodiversity loss in many areas of southeast Asia, and the news of their arrival to Peru is a scary omen.  Alarmingly, it's estimated that in Peru over 13,000 hectares of rainforest have been leveled for oil palm so far.  

Grappling with problems of this magnitude can feel hopeless, and I've seen many activist friends grow embittered through years of "tenuous, temporary victories and permanent defeats" (as one of them described the environmentalist's predicament).  Especially at a time of year when we've recently honored the power of gratitude, it feels important to focus not on what's wrong, but rather on the possibility of doing something about it.

But back to the oil palm plantation nightmare.  With the brainstorming energy of several allies, and in keeping with the permaculture maxim that the problem is the solution, we sought out an alternative vision to the oil palm monoculture; the result is what we've been calling an oil polyculture.  Think of a forest rather than a plantation-- native trees that branch out to meet ecological goals as well as diverse and reliable productivity in order to provide decent livelihood for the human caretakers of the system-- in this case, farmers rather than plantation hands.  

The oil polyculture we envision includes over 20 species of trees providing a diverse range of edible, medicinal, and aromatic oils.  Remember rosewood?  Think of those richly perfumed trees interplanted with cacao, native palms, brazil nuts, and more.  The seedlings that make up the first 2-hectare oil polyculture demonstration site are literally on the boat right now on their way to our reforestation center.  We are celebrating the holidays and the coming of our rainy season by planting over 2500 trees in the next two months.  This first model plot will pave the way to planting the oil polyculture with participating farmers in coming years.  Can you tell I'm excited?

This is a time of great productivity and growth-- and is also a time when organizations like ours receive the great majority of our funding.  It's my pleasure to share some of our many advances and to reach out to our supporters and friends to ask that you include us in your holiday giving this year.  Plant a tree (or ten) in honor of a loved one and help us keep the Peruvian Amazon diverse and resilient. 

And now, for a limited time, donate $30 or more and get a Camino Verde t-shirt, or donate $50 to receive a dram of our completely unique Amazonian essential oil of moena alcanforada, distilled on site at our reforestation center-- the only source in the world of this essential oil. 

Thank you for helping us grow!  Warm greetings from Tambopata,

Oenocarpus mapora- an "oily" palm
Oenocarpus mapora- an "oily" palm
Our essential oil
Our essential oil
Vanilla in flower
Vanilla in flower
Dec 16, 2014

Amazon Alchemy for the Holidays

Distilling essential oil in Tambopata, Peru
Distilling essential oil in Tambopata, Peru

Recently I read that here in the Peruvian Amazon, an illegal thousand-hectare oil palm plantation was detected in satellite images.  (You can read the article here.) Oil palm plantations mean deforestation and tremendous biodiversity loss in many areas of southeast Asia, and the news of their arrival to Peru is a scary omen.  Alarmingly, it's estimated that in Peru over 13,000 hectares of rainforest have been leveled for oil palm so far.  

Grappling with problems of this magnitude can feel hopeless, and I've seen many activist friends grow embittered through years of "tenuous, temporary victories and permanent defeats" (as one of them described the environmentalist's predicament).  Especially at a time of year when we've recently honored the power of gratitude, it feels important to focus not on what's wrong, but rather on the possibility of doing something about it.

But back to the oil palm plantation nightmare.  With the brainstorming energy of several allies, and in keeping with the permaculture maxim that the problem is the solution, we sought out an alternative vision to the oil palm monoculture; the result is what we've been calling an oil polyculture.  Think of a forest rather than a plantation-- native trees that branch out to meet ecological goals as well as diverse and reliable productivity in order to provide decent livelihood for the human caretakers of the system-- in this case, farmers rather than plantation hands.  

The oil polyculture we envision includes over 20 species of trees providing a diverse range of edible, medicinal, and aromatic oils.  Remember rosewood?  Think of those richly perfumed trees interplanted with cacao, native palms, brazil nuts, and more.  The seedlings that make up the first 2-hectare oil polyculture demonstration site are literally on the boat right now on their way to our reforestation center.  We are celebrating the holidays and the coming of our rainy season by planting over 2500 trees in the next two months.  This first model plot will pave the way to planting the oil polyculture with participating farmers in coming years.  Can you tell I'm excited?

This is a time of great productivity and growth-- and is also a time when organizations like ours receive the great majority of our funding.  It's my pleasure to share some of our many advances and to reach out to our supporters and friends to ask that you include us in your holiday giving this year.  Plant a tree (or ten) in honor of a loved one and help us keep the Peruvian Amazon diverse and resilient. 

And now, for a limited time, donate $30 or more and get a Camino Verde t-shirt, or donate $50 to receive a dram of our completely unique Amazonian essential oil of moena alcanforada, distilled on site at our reforestation center-- the only source in the world of this essential oil. 

Thank you for helping us grow!  Warm greetings from Tambopata,

Fruits of sinamillo, Oenocarpus mapora
Fruits of sinamillo, Oenocarpus mapora
Essential oil from the Amazon
Essential oil from the Amazon
Vanilla in flower
Vanilla in flower
Oct 15, 2014

Coming to Peru: the Adam Retort

The Camino Verde team in Tambopata
The Camino Verde team in Tambopata

Dear Friends,

I mentioned in my last report how we'd identified what we believe is our best option for creating bio-char-- charcoal that improves soils for farmers while locking the CO2 stored by plants into a stable molecular structure that doesn't re-release the carbon.  Excitement about bio-char's potential is evident everywhere on the internet, in the world, and in the Peruvian Amazon we call home.  

That "best option" for making bio-char is the Adam Retort-- an oven or kiln designed by appropriate technologist Chris Adam-- which turns a great variety of raw materials into agriculturally useful charcoal.  I've had the pleasure of being in touch with Dr. Adam, and he's shared some of the exciting success stories of the Adam Retort around the world.  I'm including here several of the photos he sent me from projects in many different countries.  

We're excited to bring the Adam Retort to Madre de Dios, Peru, where abundant biomass will ensure an ongoing source of raw material.  Turning debris and industrial wastes like sawdust and brazil nut shells into charcoal is a win-win-- otherwise discarded or burnt (combusted) materials such as these represent an environmental problem.  As bio-char, these "waste" products become black gold.

You'll notice that interspersed with the photos of Adam Retorts from many continents are photos of the Camino Verde team in Peru flashing our new t-shirts!  Made in Peru of pima cotton, an ancient Peruvian heirloom variety, these shirts represent a tangible commitment to climate change: the tree you wear on your chest is a tree that we plant together in the Amazon.  Donate $30 or more and receive a Camino Verde t-shirt today.  (And yes, women's shirts are cut differently than the men's-- our female team members made sure of it.)

I'm excited as always to share with you our progress, and thankful for your support.  Together we're building a greener future for the Amazon, one tree at a time. 

An Adam Retort in Slovakia
An Adam Retort in Slovakia
Friends of CV
Friends of CV
An Adam Retort in Sweden
An Adam Retort in Sweden
Staffer don Juan and son
Staffer don Juan and son
Bio-char produced in Palestine
Bio-char produced in Palestine

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