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.
Mar 17, 2015

A global perspective on Bio-char for a finite planet

Charcoal production in rural Uganda
Charcoal production in rural Uganda

Dear Friends,

I recently had the great fortune to visit Uganda, a very different landscape and climate from our home site in the Peruvian Amazon.  What brought me there was the opportunity to help develop a community reforestation project, and the trip was a great success.  Native Seeds is poised to be one of the most important native species reforestation initiatives in northern Uganda.  It was humbling and inspiring to get to join Wise Women of Uganda-- a community-based organization of women traditional healers-- in developing an ecologically and culturally vital action plan. Apwoyo matek!  

To my surprise, the visit was also a chance to see firsthand an unlikely connection to bio-char.  With essentially all Ugandans relying on firewood and charcoal for their home cooking, a bustling charcoal trade was visible everywhere I went.  Unfortunately, the pressure on trees and the resulting ecological degradation from over-harvesting of available wood was frankly scary.  I was encouraged to hear from young and old alike that there's an awareness of the need for reforestation, but it was also obvious that much action is needed to achieve energy sustainability in Uganda.

One way to help secure people's very real energy needs in the future is through improved charcoal production that makes more efficient use of wood and produces more charcoal pound for pound.  One of the best ways to do that is by using an Adam Retort charcoal oven like the one that I've described in previous reports for making bio-char as a soil ammendment.  Although Ugandan charcoal production is outside the realm of this Amazonian project, don't be surprised if you see a new page up on GlobalGiving in the near future.  Besides, all the residue and debris leftover from fuel charcoal production can be used as bio-char!

Meanwhile, it's great to be back home in the Peruvian Amazon.  I'm grateful for your support and interest in our work.  Thanks for helping create a greener future.

Wise Women of Uganda - traditional healers
Wise Women of Uganda - traditional healers' co-op
Julian Moll-Rocek with an African mahogany
Julian Moll-Rocek with an African mahogany
A shea tree, threatened by charcoal production
A shea tree, threatened by charcoal production
Low quality charcoal is the norm
Low quality charcoal is the norm
Seeds of native trees of Mpango, Uganda
Seeds of native trees of Mpango, Uganda
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

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