Dear friends of Camino Verde,
Though our first project on GlobalGiving has been closed for some time, developments have been so exciting lately that I couldn't help but send you some information on the aftermath of what your support has made possible. You can still support this ongoing work-- through our new project page on GlobalGiving found here.
For the June solstice of 2014, our winter solstice, I had the pleasure of finding myself in Iquitos, Peru, the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon and the largest city in the world not connected elsewhere by road. In place of a road – the Amazon River, the earth's greatest river system and one of the "Seven Natural Wonders of the World" according to a 2012 global vote. You may remember from previous missives that what brought Camino Verde to this part of the world – not too terribly far from our Tambopata home base – was a tree whose history is both fascinating and tragic.
I'm speaking of Brazilian rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora), a beautiful, enormous Amazonian hardwood whose rich, floral scent fueled an unlikely persecution: rosewood trees were sought out and exploited to the point of near extinction to supply the demand of Chanel and many a perfumer throughout the 20th century. Think teams of haphazard lumberjacks ripping rainforest giants from the soil roots and all to distill an essential oil whose dollar value in the perfumers' trade blinded natives and industrialists alike to the inherent worth of a species, its inherent right to exist.
Fast forward to the 21st century. Once plentiful rosewood trees became extinct over entire regions of Amazonia. Despite ongoing demand for its aromatic oil, efforts at reforestation of the species were lackluster and few.
You may recall that in the first months of 2013 Camino Verde was able to acquire and give a home to over a thousand rosewood trees, the fulfillment of a five year search for seeds that finally, so to speak, bore fruit. Over half of those rare seedlings were planted in partnership with Brillo Nuevo, a native community of the Bora tribe found on the remote waters of the Yabasyacu River, an area formerly thick with rosewood trees.
Last week I had the honor of revisiting those rare infant seedlings, now a year and a half on, and to share stories with the farmer-stewards elected by their community to be the caretakers of those trees. To my delight, in the sixteen intervening months many of these precocious green youngsters had surpassed the height of their human keepers – a testament to the dedication of our native partners and to the resilience of the rainforest itself.
The growth of the trees is worth celebrating in and of itself, but our plans for their future are equally exciting. With our allies at the Center for Amazon Community Ecology, longtime friends of the Bora of Brillo Nuevo, we are forging a sustainable future for a once-abused species that will also provide meaningful income for a proud but marginalized people. By the end of 2015 we plan to be harvesting the first branches and leaves in a new paradigm for rosewood essential oil production – one that promotes and enhances the species' survival rather than threatening it with oblivion.
Just days after returning from the pink dolphin-rich waters of the Yabasyacu, we visited another community remarkable for its role in the rosewood story. Just an hour by fast boat from Iquitos up the Amazon River, the town of Tamshiyacu is home to Juan Silvano Yumbato and a small group of visionary farmers who with support from the Peruvian government planted hundreds of rosewood trees in the last decade. Juan told me how the community had learned to value and protect this highly valued tree, and after a fruitful day of visiting with farmers and applauding this village's remarkable efforts, we sat down to forge an unprecedented plan for the survival of rosewood.
Juan and his neighbors have agreed to collect seeds from their carefully stewarded adult trees, seeds that we and our partners at the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute will propagate to seedlings and distribute to native communities and Camino Verde's reforestation center for prosperous growth and safeguarding in perpetuity. In exchange for their efforts, in the months to come we will deliver distillation equipment to Juan and his fellow rosewood stewards, allowing them to earn an ethical income from sustainable harvest of rosewood leaves and branches that rather than harm, will in fact encourage the trees' growth.
Thanks are in order to David Crow of the aromatherapy company Floracopeia, whose commitment to plant-based medicines and sustainable practices led him to offer to distribute the entire essential oil output of Juan and the folks in Tamshiyacu. Thanks too to the Center for Amazon Community Ecology, whose ongoing relationship with the people of Brillo Nuevo and other native communities made a successful reforestation of rosewood possible there.
And thanks also to you – without your donor support the survival of rosewood and the many other species we plant and protect would be little more than a dream. By the way, at last count the number of rare and endangered Amazonian tree species we care for passed 300! Back on the home front at our Tambopata reforestation center we've planted another half dozen species closely related to rosewood, trees that in 2-3 years will provide entirely new, never-before-distilled essential oils. Now more than ever, your contribution means a viable future for so many of the organisms that provide the air we breathe and make the Earth livable.
Please continue to support our unique biodiversity preservation programs at whatever level you're able. The trees thank you. I thank you.
Wishing you a wonderful solstice season and excited for the future we're creating together,
Dear Friends of Camino Verde,
Happy holidays! Thank you so much for including Camino Verde in your giving in 2013. Since our organization is small by design, your contributions make a huge impact on what we're able to accomplish. 2013 has been a great year for us, and 2014 is looking to be even more exciting. Thanks for helping us plant trees and save virgin Amazonian rainforest!
You may have noticed that our project on GlobalGiving is very close to reaching it's fundraising goal! This is exciting news, and we couldn't have done it without you. I want to give you a heads up that because we are soon to be reaching our goal, we have posted a new project on GlobalGiving, and we'd love to have your continuing support through this transition. It will mean a few clicks to switch your donations over to the new project. Please take a second to check out the new project page now.
In the meantime, we're celebrating the successes we've had through our partnership with GlobalGiving. Thanks to your support, GlobalGiving has labeled Camino Verde a Superstar organization. It's their highest rank! Here are a few more amazing facts related to our time on GG so far:
•Since our first donation was received through GlobalGiving on November 29, 2010, we've received over 900 donations totalling $50,000
•Contributions through GlobalGiving have helped us to plant 5,000 trees and save 200 more acres of Amazon rainforest. It doesn't take a math wiz to see that we dramatically upped our initial project goals.
•Great beginnings-- When Camino Verde signed up for GlobalGiving, we ranked in the top 10 new projects on the site, again thanks to your support and donations
•In order to keep up with your support, we expanded our project budget and goals three times in the past three years. Finally it feels like it's time to retire this awesome project and start a new one! Join us in making the new project on GlobalGiving as big a success as our previous one has been.
•Did you know? Camino Verde also has another project on GlobalGiving as well: Turning Carbon Footprints Into Healthy Soils is our response to linking agricultural solutions for tropical farmers to exciting and practical technologies for carbon capture. Passionate about climate change? Check this project out.
Thank You once again for your support of our Amazon restoration work.
Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful new year,
Robin Van Loon
What if everyone in the world realized that the best way to celebrate this season was to plant Christmas trees? With the close of one year and the coming of another, it's a wonderful time to reflect on where we've been and where we're going, who we've been and who we're becoming. Thanks to your support, Camino Verde has had an extraordinarily fruitful 2013, and we're looking forward to all that 2014 will bring. When you plan your holiday giving, we're grateful for your consideration as a worthy project to support. In fact, we're now less than $3,000 away from our total funding goal on Global Giving. Help us get there. We, and the trees, thank you!
A year in review
In 2013, Camino Verde broke new ground in several areas. Here's a few of the highlights--
-In February, we planted 900 rosewood seedlings in the native community of Brillo Nuevo, Loreto, Peru in the parcels of indigenous farmers looking to establish a sustainable income from tree crops. (Photo 1, below.) This brought the total number we planted in the first quarter of 2013 to 2,100 trees.
-In April we inaugurated our new buildings at the Camino Verde reforestation center. From the ground up, these new lodgings for visitors, volunteers, and staff are at the vanguard of sustainable architecture for the rainforest (Photo 2, below). Thanks for making our new home so sturdy! (And come visit.)
-In June we completed work on our tree nursery, which now allows us to propagate 2500 tree seedlings a year. (Photo 3.)
-In November, with the first rains of the season we planted another 750 trees, our final tree planting of the calendar year. These 750 trees represent a half dozen of the Amazon's most endangered, over-exploited trees. Thanks to Carpe Diem Education for once again supporting our work in the world with volunteer visits and carbon offsetting donations!
What comes next?
In 2014, Camino Verde will ally with a diverse range of individuals and organizations to help transform our reforestation center into a world-class model farm of tropical agroforestry and sustainable agriculture. Here are a few of the pieces of the puzzle to look forward to...
--Gorka Atxuara from the Basque country in Spain is an expert in bio-fertilizers. Think compost tea: rich plant nutrient formulas that include abundant beneficial micro-organisms. In 2014, Gorka will help Camino Verde set up a small production facility for use in our tree nursery.
--Biochar! You may have noticed that we have another project on Global Giving, found here: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/turning-carbon-footprints-into-healthy-soils/ In 2014 we're gearing up to implement this vital technology on our farm. Check out the link to find out more.
--Allies from Earth University and the University of Guelph are helping us to implement solar power, biogas digestion, and other amazing green technologies on our farm. With their help, we are aiming to become a living example of what's possible for our neighbors and farmer partners.
--And, of course, more planting trees!
Once again, we're grateful for your support in 2013. Thanks for helping us to plant a greener world, one tree at a time.
Our project's humble title is "Planting 1000 trees, Saving 100 acres." But if you've been keeping up with us on GlobalGiving or facebook or on CaminoVerde.org, then you probably know that we've far exceeded the numbers in our original project name. We've planted over 1000 trees per year and been able to purchase around 180 acres of rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon.
Now we're getting ready for one of the most exciting times of year, one of my favorite seasons. That's right, it's time for tree planting! With the beginning of the rainy season in November, we start getting our green allies out into the ground so they'll take advantage of the next four months' rains to get well established. Our plant nursery goes from a crowded city of tree seedlings to an abandoned lot. And then we do it all over again.
This year, we're planting some really exciting, extraordinary trees. Among them are several of the aromatic trees related to rosewood that we've mentioned in past project reports. Our nursery clearing means that we're planting around 20 species of trees. Over 2000 trees total.
This year, we're calling upon our volunteer allies from Carpe Diem Education to help us get the trees in the ground. And we hope that you'll support us at this important time of year. Your donation will help get these trees planted-- and acquire seeds to restock our nursery for next year!
And now your support counts more than ever-- we are less than $5,000 away from reaching our project funding goal. With your support, we're hoping to meet or exceed our total fundraising goal for this project by the end of the year! (And, coming soon... your small donation ($25 or more) will get you an Amazon-crafted holiday ornament. Stay tuned for more details.)
Warm greetings from the Peruvian Amazon!
All this good work positions us well for the future, and we're looking for your help to keep our programs going strong through the end of 2013. It's our goal this month to raise the remaining $7,711 in our Planting 1000 trees, Saving 100 acres project. With your support, we'll be able to complete our fundraising through GlobalGiving with a bang (helping to keep Camino Verde ranked a Superstar organization on GG!).
I deeply appreciate any contribution you’re able to make. (You can donate at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/planting-1000-trees-saving-100-acres/ )
Here are just a few of the program improvements you've helped us accomplish in 2012 and 2013:
-Completed our 2500 seedling tree nursery, with a well and water tower to keep our little friends growing strong.
-With help from two grants, purchased production-scale essential oil distillation equipment to create aromatic essential oils from endangered jungle hardwoods like rosewood and many others. We are targeting this project to be an income producer within a year.
-Created a network of monitoring trails to ensure no poachers or loggers enter the thousand acre preserve we protect. (And now we’ve installed a motion sensor camera to take images of some of the amazing fauna!)
Thanks so much for your support of Camino Verde, now and always. Together, we’re taking great strides to keep the Amazon green.
Robin Van Loon
Executive Director, Camino Verde
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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