With the support of Rainforest Partnership, the communities of San Antonio and Calabaza in the Colibri Cloudforest, in Junin Province, Peru, have been promoting ecotourism as alternative and sustainable way to create jobs for the two communities. In order for the Colibri Cloudforest become an ecotourism destination, Rainforest Partnership is supporting the efforts of these two communities. San Antonio is currently completing construction of its eco-hostel and Calabaza plans to build an eco-lodge once the eco-hostel in San Antonio is complete.
With San Antonio community’s master mason and master carpenter leading construction efforts, the community has embraced the construction and worked well with Rainforest Partnership’s project coordinator, Eusebio Alanya Quinones. Thirty community members participated in the construction of the eco-hostel’s second floor. Construction of one room and finishing touches, such as varnishing, and supplying bedding, blankets, mosquito netting, are the only tasks that remain on the second floor. The construction of the eco-hostel will be completed in early May 2013. The first floor, which has been finished, includes the kitchen and the dining room, which will also serve as community meetings. The second floor includes the bedrooms, a women’s bathroom, and a men’s bathroom
The community expects the business to grow and increasingly benefit the community and the cloudforest. Part of the proceeds will be reinvested in the hostel and some proceeds will go to community improvements for roads and gardens, and for reforestation. Initially, the ecolodge will create four jobs for the community in the management, maintenance of the ecolodge, as well as jobs in food preparation and guiding. The community hopes to host scientists, students, and teachers as well as tourists for a richer exchange. Although the ecohostel is not finished, the community has already hosted Professor Julio Alvarez of the University of Central Peru and his students for two days and two nights.
Overall, this project helps the communities of San Antonio and Calabaza protect the ecological and economic resources of the forest. Caring for the cloud forest not only helps to create a sustainable environment to attract tourists, but also helps the community’s economy as a whole – when the cloudforest is healthy, coffee and bananas can be grown more sustainably and productively, and trees improve soil structure and help prevent landslides. Being a new eco-tourist destination, the communities hope that visitors see for themselves the reason for the landslides on the roads and the effects of a changing climate.
The community of San Antonio and Rainforest Partnership (RP) have collaborated in the construction of a hostel to provide more capacity for tourists and a sustainable source of income for the community. The RP Peru team, along with community members, finalized a design and budget for the construction. The hostel design was displayed to the community members, who were interested and excited to see their contributions utilized, and their work and materials valued economically. Rainforest Partnership's staff met with the community carpenter and together they developed a detailed budget for labor and materials. Based on this budget, materials have been purchased and construction for the hostel is underway, including the building of the stairs, the second floor, and the toilets.
Also, cooking workshops were conducted to prepare the community members for working at the hostel. The workshops included methods of healthy and sanitary cooking for tourists and visitors. Victoria Chavez Villanueva, founder of the NGO Manuela Ramos, helped develop the workshop materials.
During the first months of 2012, the Colibri Cloudforest Project has been focused on the construction of the Hostel in San Antonio, and the execution of different workshops with members of the community in topics like cooking and coffee growing.
The community has been very interested in learning more about healthy ways of cooking, and new ways to grow coffee that will reduce soil erosion and reduce the use of chemicals. These workshops have been led the RP project coordinator Norma Lecca, with the help of Rainforest Alliance. The coffee workshop was held successfully in San Antonio by a specialist in coffee production through agroforestry. The goal is to continue offering the residents management techniques that yield higher productivity from their farms so they don’t have to clear any forest.
The construction of the hostel has been on hold after a series of revisions to the infrastructure and design, but will be finished up in the coming months. The community and the RP Team are very excited about its completion!
RP project coordinators Norma and Eusebio have worked with the communities of San Antonio and Calabaza to create associations of community members who are interested and dedicated to the ecotourism project. These community members will invest their time and efforts to work together in the continued success of the project. They are very concerned about the risk of their cloud forest being cut down for pasturelands or other commercial purposes.
Several meetings took place where members were informed on the requirements in forming the associations, as well as examples and models of other established associations and their goals. In latter meetings, members had opportunities to share their ideas for what they though the association should do to develop the community and tourism. Goals and objectives were agreed on, and each member signed the final agreement to form an association in each community.
The objectives, which the members agreed on, are:
1) To better the quality of life for the population, which includes the construction of public bathrooms, better drinking water service, and better stoves.
2) To better agricultural practices, including finding alternatives to coffee
3) To protect and conserve their natural resources
4) To obtain a concession or reserve for the community of San Antonio
5) To formalize tourism as an economic activity for the community with the construction of lodging and restaurants
6) To look for financial support for conservation projects, reforestation efforts, tourism, and a butterfly house
7) To continue with obtaining titles to their lands
There are also talks with the Reserva Piu Piu, a national reserve located within the district, to work together to promote the district as a conservation tourism area. The Peruvian RP staff has met with the director of the reserve to discuss ways in which they can partner together. The director has discussed the possibility of training and employing community members as park rangers for the reserve. This training and employment would be very useful for the community members, not only as a more stable flow of income but also as a way to bring back more knowledge about the forest and its protection to the communities.
In other news, once Architects Without Borders consult the structural engineers, the translated plans for the hostel in San Antonio will be ready to be sent to the RP project coordinator, the construction foreman and community construction team in Peru. Construction will begin once the rainy season has stopped to allow for such activity, which should be in early February. The hostel should be ready for visitors by this summer (June).
Thank you for your continued support of the Colibri Ecotourism project. The communities of San Antonio and Calabaza truly appreciate your help and generosity. For more recent updates on each of our projects, please visit our website for more information on the project!
Our dedicated volunteer Charles continued to work in the communities of San Antonio and Calabaza through the end of August. Within those 4 weeks, he managed to help Eusebio, the community leaders, and other community members to finish the bathroom in the temporary hostel, and start setting up the volunteer house in San Antonio. As the first occupant of the volunteer house, Charles set up a small kitchen, complete with a gas stove and cooking pots and utensils. Besides building up infrastructure, Charles focused his attention on building trusting relationships with the community members. Since this project is relatively young, it is important for the community members to trust our organization, staff, and volunteers to ensure a long lasting, successful working relationship with them. Charles did this by engaging in informal conversations outside their homes or at the dinner tables, as families were eager to have him over. He also helped in the coffee harvest, which is the primary form of income for the people. Thanks to Charles’s patient and dedicated work in building relationships with the community members, the project will have even more community input for continued success in building a community-owned and managed ecotourism in the district.
Eusebio, along with Charles and Norma, our Lima based project coordinator, also had the opportunity to travel to a successful ecolodge a few hours from our project site. There, Eusebio, took notes on infrastructure, tourist activities, food, and other considerations needed for our project back in his home community. By seeing firsthand what is necessary for an ecotourism industry, Eusebio will be able to take his new knowledge and bring it back to his community and implement it for our project.
In other news, Architects Without Borders have completed preliminary plans for the volunteer house in San Antonio. The plans were sent to RP Peru staff, which shared the plans with the community. The community excitedly approved the plans. Architects Without Borders is now finishing up the complete plans, and once sent to the community, construction can begin to complete the volunteer house by the end of this year before raining season. Once the volunteer house is complete, longer-term volunteers will be able to stay in San Antonio and continue to work directly with the community members and hold workshops on English, environment, and hospitality for both adults and children. As I personally heard from the women in San Antonio when I was there this summer, they are very eager to have volunteer stay in the community to teach them English and cooking recipes.
Thank you for your continued support of our project. This project would not be possible without your support! For more recent updates on each of our projects, please visit our website at: http://www.rainforestpartnership.org/category/news/projects
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