Greetings from the Amazon! It’s the peak of the dry season here at Finca Las Piedras, our base of operations in Peru’s Madre de Dios region, and that means lots of interesting things are happening in the rainforest. The dry season brings lots of changes—many plants, for instance, are flowering, getting ready to later produce fruit as heavy rains return in a few months. The timing of fruiting and flowering is called ‘phenology’, and we have just finished setting up a permanent 1 hectare plot in which we will monitor this for nearly 200 species of Amazonian trees. Data gathered from the plot will also allow us to monitor how the rainforest’s carbon storage changes over time, and how climate change is impacting tree mortality and recruitment. We have also recently completed our first full year’s sampling of butterflies in our permanent monthly trapping study, and ASA staff are now busy trying to tease patterns from the mountains of data the study has already generated. Just like for plants, we are interested in the impacts of climate change and other human disturbances on butterfly populations in our part of the Amazon. These are just a couple of the many things our team of researchers is busy with at the moment, all of which are laying an important foundation for understanding how the Amazon works, how it is changing, and how we can best protect and restore it.
On the education front, after a tough couple of years of restrictions due to Covid-19, schools will soon be resuming in-person classes and we are thrilled to soon get back into the field with our local children! One thing that we’re particularly excited about is a new project we’re launching that will bring more than 80 local students from 10 rural schools in the local school district to Finca Las Piedras. We’ll work with the kids to teach them about the rainforest, its plants and animals, and how they all work together to keep the Amazon healthy. This will be an important experience for children who have few other opportunities for hands-on learning, and we expect to make significant progress in helping to shape their environmental identities. Our hope is that strong environmental identities will translate to more sustainable actions among the next generation of rainforest stewards, ensuring both a healthy environment and local livelihoods long into the future.
As always, thank you for your support—together we are continuing to have a huge impact in the Amazon, just when the rainforest and the people who live here need it the most. We are all so grateful to have you on our side.
Geoff and Johana
Dear rainforest champions,
What a promising year we have ahead of us! In Peru, although the pandemic is still ongoing, things are looking a little better each day as vaccinations ramp up. At Finca Las Piedras, life has slowly begun to return to some sense of normalcy, and we have so far been able to keep everyone safe from Covid-19. We expect things to continue to get better from here.
With the arrival of our 2021 staff members in January, we are back to having a full team and have resumed most of the regular activities we had to pause last year due to the pandemic. Our research projects are back to 100% capacity and we are wrapping up at least 4 research articles that will soon be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In terms of our reforestation efforts, we are in the process of germinating close to 1,000 Brazil nut seeds to distribute to our local Brazil nut concessionaires and ensure the regeneration of thousands of acres of rainforest near Finca Las Piedras. Since this rainy season has been unusually wet, we’ve had to work a bit harder than usual to keep everything going, but it’s all worth it to see how happy the rains have made our regenerating rainforest!
Finally, we are excited to resume some of our education programs this summer as well, including our regular projects with undergraduate students. Although we will continue to maintain a strict Covid-19 mitigation protocol, we are thrilled at the opportunity to once again inspire the next generation of Amazon conservationists.
Despite all of the challenges that remain for us this year we are still fighting for the Amazon, and we are grateful to all of you for continuing to provide critical funding and support to keep our research, reforestation, and education projects in Peru going strong.
The ASA Team
Thank you everybody for your generous support during this year’s Giving Tuesday campaign—it was an incredible success and we are so grateful!
Here in Peru the end of the year signals the beginning of the rainy season, which means there is lots of work to be done—this is the time for planting trees! In addition to regular maintenance on our existing agroforestry plots, we are busy with several new projects. We are installing a new experimental plot to evaluate productive local varieties of native cacao, planting trees to reforest degraded areas, and working with our local Brazil nut harvesters to ensure the sustainability of this important activity across more than 25,000 acres of intact rainforest in Peru. Your support is making all of this possible, and much more.
Now that the Covid-19 pandemic is slowly being brough under control in Peru, we are also looking forward to welcoming new staff members in early 2021. Having these enthusiastic biologists and conservationists from Peru and around the world join our team will allow us to resume many of the research activities that were temporarily put on hold this year. Of course, we have strict protocols in place to keep everyone safe, always our top priority. We are thrilled to continue generating the information needed for effective, science-based conservation in Peru.
Despite all of the challenges that were thrown at us this year we are still fighting for the Amazon, and we have you to thank for that—our amazing community of rainforest champions has stepped up with the critical funding needed to keep our research, reforestation, and education projects in Peru going. With you on our side, we are making a difference. Together we have accomplished so much, and we are excited about what comes next.
Again, thank you for being a supporter of our fight for the Amazon. We hope you are staying healthy and safe. From our family in Peru to yours, please have a happy holiday season.
Dear GlobalGiving supporters,
Thank you for stepping up to sustain our work and keep us going during what is a difficult time for everyone. With your support we’ve successfully overcome the initial obstacles to our conservation and education work in Peru that were thrust upon us by the global Covid-19 pandemic. Instead of shutting down, as many other local organizations have sadly had to do, we’ve been able to:
· Continue restoring the Amazon rainforest through reforestation. It’s the dry season now in southeastern Peru, which means it’s time to prepare for planting trees when the rains return in a few months. We are caring for hundreds of seedlings that we recently planted in our nursery, and when it starts to rain again they’ll go into the ground. We will plant Brazil nuts and other trees that provide food for local people and wildlife, including several species in danger of extinction.
· Continue our critical biological monitoring projects. We’re monitoring plant and animal populations and how they respond to the accelerating impacts of climate change.
· Continue to deliver high quality environmental education to our local kids. Even though we can’t reach them physically this year, we’ve been able to adapt our approach by creating online tools and materials to be distributed to children and their families as they learn from home.
We still have a long way to go, especially given that Peru has been one of the world’s most hardest-hit countries by Covid-19. Not only does this crisis negatively affect peoples’ health, but it has also erased lots of gains in conservation and education as many people now struggle just to meet their basic needs. We’ll keep fighting for the Amazon, and we’ll be able to do it because we have you on our side.
Geoff Gallice & Johana ReyesProject leaders
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