Greetings from Tambopata! It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to share the latest from Camino Verde. And as always, I’ll be happy to provide an update. But our Missives are so often about what we’re doing that I know many of you may be wondering who it is that’s actually making it happen. So after a quick summary of what we’ve got going on, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to our team, the Camino Verde family.
We’re always grateful for your support, and now more than ever. Your donation keeps our unique grassroots programs thriving and provides meaningful, fair employment to the folks I’ll introduce you to in a moment. But first, a word about our work.
Update at a glance
1. The numbers are in. The early 2013 season was our most intensive tree planting campaign ever. We put close to 3000 trees in the ground in the first four months of the year, representing 25 vital and endangered species.
2. A new look. Our infrastructure overhaul was a wild success. Construction was completed in May on our new lodgings for staff, visitors, and volunteers. If you haven’t checked it out already, take a look at the photo album here.
3. The Rosewood story continues. Our brand new essential oil distillation equipment has landed in Lima and is being shipped to our Tambopata home as we speak. Special thanks to Gary from Heart Magic Distillers for giving us such wonderful service to go along with his excellent equipment.
4. Camino veggies? This year we’re stepping up our on-site production of vegetables, to eat healthy and share seeds with our neighbors. We’re proud to report that our permaculture-style mulch gardens will focus on rare Amazonian tubers and greens, helping to preserve many crops that are closer to being lost each year. It’s not just about the trees any more!
Meet the team
None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the folks I’m about to introduce. The Camino Verde team is a group that loves the forests and farms of Tambopata and is working hard to preserve the region’s wonders. It’s my honor to call them colleagues and friends. And it’s my pleasure to present them now. (In alphabetical order by last name…)
Born and raised in Puerto Pardo at the mouth of the Heath River on the Peru-Bolivia border, Livia Amurús (or “doña Kika”) joined Camino Verde just two months ago. And we’ve been enjoying her cheerful sparkle and amazing cooking ever since. After living in Santa Cruz, Bolivia for over 20 years, doña Kika returned to her native Madre de Dios eight years ago. Here at Camino Verde, she provides the whole team with delicious meals and helps manage our vegetable gardens.
Though not a part of our permanent staff, Carlos Arimuyais a the friend and neighbor who built our new and improved lodgings. A long time ally and native of the community of Baltimori, we’re sure to work with Carlos again in the future.
Miguel Cardicel was born and raised in Puerto Maldonado, the capital of Madre de Dios. Our longest running employee, don Miguel has worked as a fisherman, a lumberjack, a farmer, and a rubber tapper. He is the grounds manager at our reforestation center and for over two years has been helping us keep the trees ahead of the weeds.
For the next three months, Sam Goodman is our intern here at Camino Verde. After studying political science at Oberlin, Sam moved to Lambayeque, Peru for two years with the Peace Corps. Currently in a joint program at American University in Washington DC and the UN-chartered University of Peace in Costa Rica, Sam is working on his masters in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, focusing on how Camino Verde’s work helps mitigate the environmental impact of the Interoceanic Highway. (You can read his excellent first paper on the Highway here.)
Manuel Huinga comes from a long line of Tambopata Huingas. Born and raised on his grandfather’s farm on the Tambopata River, Manuel learned a love for the region’s flora and fauna at an early age. Currently an Environmental & Forestry Engineering student at UNAMAD, Puerto Maldonado’s university, Manuel has worked at a tree nursery for the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)’s Andes to Amazon project. As part time staff for Camino Verde, Manuel compliments his university studies as the head of our tree nursery and inventories seed-bearing adult trees in the wild forests we protect.
Ursula Leyva is CV’s second in command and the executive director of Camino Verde Tambopata, our Peruvian legal organizational branch. Originally from Lima, Ursula has lived in Madre de Dios since 2005. She has worked as the administrator of an eco-tourist lodge, the director of a non-profit organization focusing on environmental education for children, and in the United States as a counselor at an alternative outdoor education program. For over a year, this Permaculture design consultant has managed CV Tambopata’s legal presence and helped keep our reforestation center running smoothly.
Ever since Camino Verde began, Juan Rafaele has been a good neighbor and great friend. Native to Apurimac in the Andean highlands, Juan has lived in Tambopata for over 20 years. His farm is an extraordinary example of diversified agroforestry systems. Two years ago, Juan sold Camino Verde 100 acres of his land on the condition that we’d hire him for any work there. For the past two seasons, Juan has helped us plant over 2000 trees on this land.
Our newest employee, Ricsi Taborga has in less than a month proven herself as an incredibly hard-working, joyful addition to our squad. Native to Puerto Maldonado, Ricsi is a mother of three with a wicked sense of humor. Her favorite jokes are about how no man can match her weeding abilities with a machete. And she’s right!
Then there’s me, Robin Van Loon. But I think you know enough about me already. But there are also animals! They'll have to wait. For now, meet Rosita...
I hope this Missive has helped to put a face, or faces, to go along with those trees. And of course there’s one more member of our team who we couldn’t do it without: You. Thanks for your support now and always. Your interest and your contributions are what keep our work alive.
Warm greetings from Tambopata!