Climate Action Fund leader Sophia Rokhlin shares how the Chaikuni Institute is revitalizing traditional knowledge to support the plants, animals, and humans who call the Peruvian Amazon home.
Deforestation is threatening the Amazon
Across the Peruvian Amazon, pristine rainforest—and the incredible biodiversity within—is threatened by widespread deforestation and commercial resource extraction. Sophia Rokhlin works with Chaikuni Institute, an intercultural grassroots organization combating unsustainable agriculture in the heart of this ecological wonder by elevating techniques based in traditional knowledge.
“The Amazon basin is the world’s most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystem; in 2 hectares of land, we find more plant and animal species than we find in the entire continent of North America,” she shared.
However, this astounding biodiversity faces an uncertain future.
“Amazonian communities rapidly integrating into the market-economy opt for an unsustainable agricultural method called slash-and-burn or swidden farming, where a piece of pristine forest is razed to the ground, burnt, and replaced by one or two crops,” Sophia said.
The more farmers adopt slash-and-burn farming, the more widespread its impact. “This method is largely responsible for the frequent fires and loss of wildlife habitat we find in the Amazon basin,” according to Sophia.
Traditional knowledge is key to biodiversity
“The Chaikuni Institute’s approach bridges traditional, indigenous land-management techniques with modern permaculture methods in order to develop sustainable, integrated alternatives to land-use,” Sophia shared.
Through a series of permaculture design workshops, the Chaikuni Institute is revitalizing an agricultural method based in traditional knowledge, which is called the chacra integral, or ‘holistic garden.’
“The chacra integral encourages communities to plant a great variety of different edible fruit trees, hardwood trees, and other useful plants in highly biodiverse plots of land,” Sophia explains. “This agroforestry method functions like a food forest, producing year-round abundance for communities to sell in the marketplace or consume for themselves.”
The renewal of the chacra method gives indigenous leaders and local farmers an opportunity to collaborate, with traditional knowledge acting as a bridge between economic prosperity and environmental protection.
THE LONG-TERM RESULT
Healthy forests combat climate change
Already, more than 30 farmers have learned the chacra integral method, transforming the local landscape. In partnership with Chaikuni, six new hectares of chacra integral agroforestry systems have been created in four communities located near the Nanay River by the jungle city of Iquitos to date.
These agroforestry plots are already attracting significant attention from families in the surrounding area, and the Chaikuni Institute plans to more training workshops in the future—thanks to generous GlobalGiving donors..
“Healthy forests and ecosystems are a key to mitigate climate change,” Chaikuni’s Executive Director Stefan Kistler shared. “The feedback and testimonies of participants in our workshops and activities have been highly positive, extremely inspiring and motivating to continue our efforts and create a movement to regenerate degraded parts of the Peruvian Amazon.”
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Featured Photo: Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest In The Amazon by Chaikuni Institute