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.
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
Oct 15, 2014

That tree on your chest? We planted it together

Our team in Tambopata, Peru
Our team in Tambopata, Peru

Dear friends,

I'm often reminded of the many reasons I have to be grateful for the support Camino Verde receives from you, our donors.  Just today I was reflecting on the fact that our team planting trees in the Peruvian Amazon is the strongest it's ever been-- the folks in that first photo you see there are a crack squad of reforesters.  The working relationships we build are more than just a checklist for basic ethics-- yes, we provide wages and benefits that are far beyond the average in our region of Peru, hire women as well as men, and are one of the few operations in our area providing jobs in rainforest regeneration, rather than rainforest destruction.  But even more meaningfully, we are a team, a family, a group that shares a common vision.  And-- I say with tongue in cheek-- we finally have a uniform.  

For the first time ever, donate $30 or more and receive a Peruvian made Camino Verde t-shirt of 100% pima cotton-- an ancient Peruvian heirloom variety.  (And yes, heeding the advice of a team that's half female means that the women's shirts are cut differently than the men's!)  

As the title of this report suggests, the tree you wear on your chest is a tree we've planted together.  That's right: for every t-shirt we give out to a donor, we'll be planting a tree in the Peruvian Amazon.  

Which brings me to our most exciting bit of news: planting season is on its way!  Here's a quickshot series of bullet points to let you know some of the other exciting things we've got going on:

  • This year, we'll be installing agroforestry systems (read as "planting trees") including an Amazonian oil polyculture as a response to big ag plans for oil palm monocultures where once the world's most diverse ecosystem stood.  
  • We're also doing the groundwork for a study on analogue forestry systems for our region. Analog forestry is a scientifically rigurous agroforestry strategy we're pursuing with our partners at ArBio Peru. 
  • Thesis students at our nearest university, UNAMAD, in Puerto Maldonado, will begin research on the carbon sequestration rates for various species we've planted at our site.
  • Our essential oil-producing hardwood trees are growing better than ever.  Rosewood, moena alcanforada, Amazonian cinnamon and others are hitting their growth stride.  One species is already providing meaningful quantities of essential oil.  This year, we'll be planting another couple of aromatic species, hundreds of trees per species.
  • And more planting of endangered Amazonian trees! 280 species, 17,000 individual trees and counting.

Though there is no end in sight for our planting of trees, t-shirt supplies are limited.  Donate today!  We're so very glad to have you on our team.

Warm greetings from Tambopata,

Friends of Camino Verde
Friends of Camino Verde
CV volunteer
CV volunteer
Camino Verde staffer don Juan and son
Camino Verde staffer don Juan and son
Springtime in Tambopata
Springtime in Tambopata
Jul 9, 2014

Bio-char milestones!

Tree seedlings with biochar soil substrate
Tree seedlings with biochar soil substrate

Dear friends,

The first phase of our bio-char project, Turning carbon footprints into healthy soil, has been successfully funded, and successfully completed!  If you've had a chance to look at past project reports, you have a sense of what the impact potential for using charcoal agriculturally can be.

So in honor of hitting our first fundraising milestone of $10,000 (Thank You!), here's a bit about where we're at and where we came from...

1. Bio-char test plots-- We've planted several test plots of bio-char enriched soils in order to show proof of concept at a regional level and expose our farmer neighbors to the potential of bio-char.  Familiar Amazonian crops like corn and yuca (cassava) have been given the bio-char treatment with glowing results in even the most degraded soils.

2. Establishment of bio-char material "forests"-- Because bio-char is literally charred biomass, we've taken great strides to establishing sources of raw material as future char input so that we will be able to produce bio-char without affecting wild forests or biomass better left untouched.  After extensive research in the literature, we opted for bamboo as the ultimate bio-char source material-- fast growing, infinitely renewable, and secuesters more CO2 per kilo than even hardwood trees.  Additionally, our chosen local bamboo varieties are clumping types, meaning no worries about invasive runner roots taking over the neighbors' yard.  We have planted thousands of bamboo clumps, now over a year old and beginning to thrive in production of mature shoots (see photo below).

3. Research in input materials-- In addition to planting bio-char input forests of bamboo, we've identified additional sources of raw material for the production of bio-char: materials that would otherwise be burnt or dumped in rivers such as sawdust from the region's many sawmills and brazil nut shells left as a waste product from the significant brazil nut processing facilities in our region.  We've found over a dozen partners willing to provide us with these otherwise-would-be-trash source materials.

4. Research into bio-char best practices for our region of the Amazon-- There are many different ways to produce charcoal, and not all are created equal.  For example, some new technologies release 75% less methane than traditional charcoal-making techniques.  After extensive research in the literature, we've opted for our favorite bio-char production system: the Adam Retort charcoal oven.  The Adam Retort makes using a variety of materials simple, and the "retort" part means the oven is self-fueling, reducing waste and combustion of input materials.  The next chapter of this project will involve the actual construction of our first Adam Retort oven.  Future community ovens to come!

We are so grateful for your help in creating charcoal that has secuestered over 40 metric tons of carbon so far, and in so doing improving and enriching fragile Amazonian soils.

Warm greetings from the Peruvian Amazon,

Amazonian farm products can be grown with biochar
Amazonian farm products can be grown with biochar
Fragile and degraded soils of Amazonia
Fragile and degraded soils of Amazonia
Crops grown with biochar in soils
Crops grown with biochar in soils
Bamboo grown for charring
Bamboo grown for charring
 
   

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