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.
Nov 28, 2016

Amazing opportunity with the Gates Foundation!

CV researcher Olivia Revilla in the veggie garden
CV researcher Olivia Revilla in the veggie garden

Dear Friends of Camino Verde,

I'm writing because tomorrow, Tuesday we have a unique opportunity to help restore the world's forests with Camino Verde. If you have a dollar to give, we'll get a buck fifty, thanks to the Gates Foundation.

What is it?  It's the biggest matching bonus day ever on GlobalGiving, where the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given half a million dollars in matching funds available for one day only. Any donations received on Tuesday, November 29th will be matched at 50%. So you give $100, we get $150.  This is the link to donate.

Matching funds kick in right when Tuesday, November 29th begins – tonight at 12:01 am midnight when Monday ends. Whatever the time of day you're able to be online tomorrow, Tuesday, please take advantage of this great opportunity to hit up the Gates Foundation for matching funds.  There will even be prizes given out to organizations with the most donations. Please share with friends!

If you’re thinking of a year-end contribution to Camino Verde and would like to maximize its impact, this is the way to do it.  Here's our project page on GlobalGiving, where you'll be able to donate on Tuesday: 

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/cv-1000-trees-a-year-1000-acres-of-rainforest-forever/

Camino Verde is a small organization that leverages our resources to make a great impact in the restoration of the Amazon. This Bonus Day is also a chance to make a little go a long way.  If you only donate once this year, please make it Tuesday.  And please forward this to a friend who might be interested in contributing to the effort to regenerate the Amazon. 

And now on to our regularly scheduled report...

When is a forest a forest? (and when is it a plantation?)

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting the amiable representative of an institutional investors' group that had a stake in a reforestation scheme in Madre de Dios, the region of the Peruvian Amazon that is arguably the world's greatest remaining treasure in terms of a relatively intact, relatively large area of tropical forest. The investors were turning their money into teak trees, which will turn into more money. They had reason to be confident about this: teak is one of the most valuable timbers in the world and its growth and reforestation are ubiquitous in a number of areas of the tropics, including Southeast Asia and Latin America.

Teak is so popular as a species for commercial reforestation it part because it's timber is highly valuable and in part because its growth rate is known – investors know what to expect for their ROI.  Similarly, known quantities for species of pine and eucalyptus encourage the reforestation of these exotic trees on a grand scale, while many native trees remain poorly studied and little planted.

While it's hard to expect an investor to take a wild leap of faith – and reforestation is already a risky business – it's also somewhat unconscionable that the greatest impediment to massive restoration of native tree species around the world is our ignorance about how they grow.  We don't know what Return on Investment to expect, and therefore we leave these trees to the side. Unfortunate, as many of the native trees are highly valuable and in some cases can give the exotics a run for their money.

Take Amazonian ironwood, Dipteryx micrantha, a tree whose eligibility as an endangered species was recently questioned by a timber interest group mainly because they wanted to keep logging it. This emergent rainforest giant is the preferred nesting place of the harpy eagle, the world's most powerful raptor and as such an obvious conservation target. Somewhat surprisingly for a tree with wood so dense, the ironwood grows quite quickly, showing amazing vertical gain even without lateral competition for light, a property that makes it well-suited for inclusion in agro-forestry systems.

If it's true that the key ingredient missing for more reforestation of native species is more knowledge, the Peruvian Amazon's own organization, Camino Verde, is working to bridge the gap with an ever-growing body of research about the performance of over 300 native tree species.  With 2 forestry nurseries producing more than 100 species of trees a year, it is our small team's mission to push the agenda of native species restoration throughout the Peruvian Amazon and beyonod. 

Camino Verde's forest nursery manager Manuel Huinga shares, "There are tree species that when I was growing up were abundant, and now are found only deeper and deeper in the forest.  It's our work to find the seed-bearing trees and propagate more of these species that will be extinguished without our intervention.  Many of these trees grow surprisingly well, making us question why we always prefer the exotics.  If we have all the facts, native species will be able to speak for themselves."

Our nursery is a living commitment to giving native trees – fruits, medicines, timbers, and more – the chance to speak for themselves. The chance for ecologically restorative strategies to demonstrate their value. This year our nurseries will produce 20,000 seedlings representing 120 species. Next year, we hope to do more.

We couldn't do any of this without your support. And tomorrow your support will count extra. If you plan to donate any time this year, please Donate tomorrow

Thanks so much for your interest and support!

Manuel Huinga and co. at the La Joya Nursery
Manuel Huinga and co. at the La Joya Nursery
Nursery workers Elvis and Percy at La Joya Nursery
Nursery workers Elvis and Percy at La Joya Nursery
Eating pineapple at the nursery
Eating pineapple at the nursery
Nov 28, 2016

Incredible opportunity with the Gates Foundation

Camino Verde staff at our new nursery
Camino Verde staff at our new nursery

Dear Friends of Camino Verde,

I'm writing because Tuesday is a unique opportunity to help restore the world's forests with Camino Verde. If you have a dollar to give, we'll get a buck fifty, thanks to the Gates Foundation.

What is it?  It's the biggest matching bonus day ever on GlobalGiving, where the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given half a million dollars in matching funds available for one day only. Any donations received on Tuesday, November 29th will be matched at 50%. So you give $100, we get $150.  This is the link to donate.

Matching funds kick in right when Tuesday, November 29th begins – at 12:01 am midnight when Monday ends. Whatever the time of day you're able to be online on Tuesday, please take advantage of this great opportunity to hit up the Gates Foundation for matching funds.  There will even be prizes given out to organizations with the most donations. Please share with friends!

If you’re thinking of a year-end contribution to Camino Verde and would like to maximize its impact, this is the way to do it.  Here's our project page on GlobalGiving, where you'll be able to donate on Tuesday: 

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/turning-carbon-footprints-into-healthy-soils/

Camino Verde is a small organization that leverages our resources to make a great impact in the restoration of the Amazon. This Bonus Day is also a chance to make a little go a long way.  If you only donate once this year, please make it Tuesday.  And please forward this to a friend who might be interested in contributing to the effort to regenerate the Amazon. 

And now on to our regularly scheduled report...

I recently had a chance to walk under the hot Amazonian sun with Manuel Huinga, the manager of a unique tree nursery in the Southern Peruvian Amazon. Camino Verde's second tree nursery in the region, the La Joya nursery has been in existence for a couple of months, but is already home to dozens of species of seedlings.  Different sizes and shapes of leaves compete for our attention as Manuel points out the names and uses of trees rarely planted anywhere. 

The La Joya nursery is unique in many ways. Its list of native species propagated will hit 100 this year. And it's managed through entirely organic means. In 2017, new nursery equipment will be installed, including a bio-digestor to make organic probiotic fertilizers. Also to be built – and here's the part that interests us – is an Adam Retort for the production of bio-char.  You may remember reading about this charcoal-producing technology in our previous reports. It allows for the clean production of high quality charcoal, that when mixed with the bio-fertilizers becomes a potent ammendment for soil in nursery and farm alike. 

Bio-char is attractive as a soil ammendment because it helps hold nutrients in the soil. It's also of interest as part of soil remediation packages applicable to the rehabilitation of polluted, contaminate sites. In Madre de Dios, gold mining leaves a wake of soils contaminated with heavy metals and petroleum products.  This year we'll partner with the team of scientists from Wake Forest University to include bio-char in restoration and remediation strategies likely to have a regional impact.  It's just one more way bio-char and Camino Verde contribute to ecological regeneration. 

We couldn't do any of this without your support. And tomorrow your support will count extra. If you plan to donate any time this year, please Donate tomorrow

Thanks so much for your help and support!

Manuel and a seedling of Salix humboldtiana
Manuel and a seedling of Salix humboldtiana
Manuel with nursery staff Elvis (left) and Percy
Manuel with nursery staff Elvis (left) and Percy
Manuel and Elvis in the nursery
Manuel and Elvis in the nursery
One of the nursery modules
One of the nursery modules
Oct 11, 2016

What does hope look like with climate change?

Planetary lungs -the Peruvian Amazon
Planetary lungs -the Peruvian Amazon

There are reasons to be really scared of climate change and its effects. And there are reasons to be hopeful.  There are practically insurmountable challenges to a permanent, sustainable way of life for humans and other biological communities.  And there are remarkable people and strategies challenging the challenges, pushing what’s possible, creating something new. 

For many, the question of life on Earth as we know it boils down to something that we can call the carbon balance. More carbon in the atmosphere means trouble. More of it pulled from the air and held in stable form marks one hopeful way forward.  Forests play their part – we know that plants absorb carbon and hold it in, at least for as long as the plants’ bodies (wood, etc.) doesn’t rot, re-releasing the stored carbon.

Just one tiny shard of hope – an ancient technology.  Prehistoric Amazonian Indians used charcoal as a way to improve soil on their farms.  Charcoal is charred organic matter, the accumulated bodies of plants.  More recently, many centuries after the Amazonians invented what we call “black earth” (terra preta), researchers realized that charcoal represents a singular proposition for carbon sequestration – the honeycomb-like composition of charcoal keeps carbon trapped in, for as much as thousands of years.  Planting this charcoal in the soil means a carbon sink of amazing efficacy.  Used as an agricultural input, it’s called bio-char. 

Drawing from this body of ancient knowledge, our small organization Camino Verde has complimented our tree planting efforts with a drive to implement biochar in the Amazon once more, as was the case centuries or even millennia ago, but with an impact that’s purely 21st century.  If you’ve followed our reports, you know that we’ve sought to identify the best appropriate technologies to produce and introduce bio-char as part of our lasting impact strategy.

It hasn’t always been easy.  Examples of the right way forward have been few and hard to find. But this year was a sea change.  Bio-char has debuted in the dialogue of public and private institutions in Peru (including a conference in the capital of Lima) and we are breaking ground on our first bio-char production facilities in the Peruvian Amazon region of Madre de Dios.  There are reasons to be hopeful. Renewable, fast-growing bamboo is an excellent candidate for heavy carbon sequestration.  Our pilot site captures the energy of sunlight into hundreds of stalks of bamboo which are then dried and later charred, or pyrolized, locking in the carbon captured during the plants’ growth. 

For Gorka Atxuara, a farmer and agricultural technician promoting biochar in the Peruvian Amazon, biochar is one important tool in a broader toolkit. “Not a panacea – as reforestation and reduction of emissions are still vital strategies – but used as part of an integrative approach, biochar can produce tangible, quantifiable carbon capture results, storing carbon for 150 to 2000 years.”  Though not the only way forward in regard to climate change, biochar offers important additional benefits. “In oxisol soils in research plots in Colombia, a treatment with biochar offered a doubling of production for maize, compared to control plots. Biochar addresses climate change while improving livelihood for tropical farmers.”

This year Camino Verde will have a chance to test Gorka’s and others’ hypothesis: that biochar offers carbon credit-style climate change mitigation while improving tropical soils.  We’re grateful for your help in making the dream of a sustainable Amazon – indeed, a sustainable planet – a reality for future generations. Thanks for helping us turn carbon footprints into healthy soils.  We couldn’t do it without you.  

tree seedlings at our nurseries
tree seedlings at our nurseries
charcoal production in the Amazon
charcoal production in the Amazon
Agricultural technician Gorka Atxuara
Agricultural technician Gorka Atxuara
 
   

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