The aim of the Amazonas Recovery Project in simple words
Our work at the mining fields in MADRE DE DIOS, Peru:
The aim of the project is to repair damages filling the holes and pitches left behind by the miners and reforest the area with natural and local pioneer plants like the balsawood tree (ochroma pyramidale), Inga, Mucuna, Kudzu etc. in order to help nature to recover from this nightmare itself.
However, this whole story will start over and over again if the people who live of the mining trade (more than 50,000 persons) are not given alternatives for creating a reasonable income. In short: reparation of past damages is one aim and prevention of future damages is another. The second aim is planned to be achieved with:
• instruction (vocational trainings) for men and women
• promoting environmental awareness in schools, universities and at local authorities plus
• the setup of a training center which creates access to international markets providing language training English/German/Chinese and other hard skills like internet and email marketing, social media presence and other means of promotion of the locally produced goods.
Creating these options we hope de decrease not only the mining activity but also teenage prostitution, drug consumption and the spread of crime. We want the people to look into a brighter future creating jobs. The production of products like fruits, vegetables, meat and many, many other amazon products, not only for own or local consumption but also for export, will put the seed for small food and beverage or other industries in the Madre de Dios region.
Project area 1, stage 1: Filling holes and pitches
Fluvial gold mining started in Madre de Dios in a notable scale in the 1970’s. In that time the gold prospectors worked mainly in the beaches of the rivers Madre de Dios, Malinowski, Colorado, Inambari, Cachive and some smaller ones.
Later on they found out, that lots of gold can be found in the former “lagunas” right in the middle of the rainforest. These lagunas are cut-off oxbows of the rivers where they flew along long time ago. The sling was cut off by the river forming kind of an island, a Ω-shaped laguna was formed and with time the laguna dried out and became fertile jungle soil. Even small scale mining operations ripped big holes into the ground which were left behind.
Nowadays, working with dredges and large earth movement equipment, the damage is becoming uncontrollable and desert like moon-landscapes are left behind by the miners. No recovery works have been performed, at all, neither by the authorities nor by the miners.
Our task is to fill the holes and pitches with the sand and gravel on site in order to flatten and prepare the ground for the following natural fertilization, planting and reforestation.
For this phase of the project we need to count with a camp close to the work site for a considerable amount of volunteers and local workers, as well as earth movement equipment like bulldozers, front loaders and backhoes.
As each site is at least a two to three years project, the camps have to provide a minimum of comfort for the volunteers, interns and local workers. Simple tents will not be enough due to the climatic conditions. The basic idea is to build portable modules which can be removed and rebuilt somewhere else after finalizing this work site without leaving traces behind.
At the moment I am raising funds for the offices in Puerto Maldonado and Lima, the office equipment, the construction of the camps, camp facility equipment, some means of transport and a large amount of small tools like shovels, wheelbarrows, picks, marking tapes and much more.
In this stage of the project the larger equipment still would to be rented on a daily or weekly base according to available funds and work requirements.
Do want to team up or help with funds or equipment? Please contact us: Email
Project area 1, stage 2: Improving soil with biomass and planting of pioneer vegetation
Mucuna is a species of climbing vines and shrubs of the family Fabaceae, found worldwide in the woodlands of tropical areas.
Like other legumes, Mucuna plants bear pods. They are generally bat-pollinated and produce seeds that are buoyant sea beans. In many parts of the world, Mucuna pruriens is used as an important forage, fallow and green manure crop. Since the plant is a legume, it fixes nitrogen and fertilizes soil.
It is very popular as green manure. In agriculture green manure is created by leaving uprooted or mown crop parts to wither on a field so that they serve as a mulch and soil amendment. Typically, they are plowed under and incorporated into the soil while green or shortly after flowering. Green manure is commonly associated with organic farming and can play an important role in sustainable annual cropping systems.
Kudzu, also called Japanese arrowroot is a group of plants in the genus Pueraria, in the pea family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. They are climbing, coiling, and trailing perennial vines native to much of eastern Asia, southeast Asia, and some Pacific Islands.
Soil improvement and preservation with Kudzu:
Kudzu has been used as a form of erosion control and also to enhance the soil. As a legume, it increases the nitrogen in the soil via a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Its deep taproots also transfer valuable minerals from the subsoil to the topsoil, thereby improving the topsoil. In the deforested section of the central Amazon Basin in Brazil, it has been used for improving the soil pore-space in clay latosols, thus freeing even more water for plants than in the soil prior to deforestation.
Leguminous green manures such as Mucuna and Kudzu contain nitrogen-fixing symbiotic bacteria in root nodules that fix atmospheric nitrogen in a form that plants can use. This performs the vital function of fertilization. More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_manure
Ochroma pyramidale, commonly known as the balsa tree, is a species of flowering plant in the mallow family, Malvaceae. It is a large, fast-growing tree that can grow up to 4 m in height and 10 cm of diameter per year. Balsa wood is a very lightweight material with many uses. In nature the balsawood tree is a pioneer plant which establishes itself in clearings in forests, either man-made or where trees have fallen, or in abandoned agricultural fields. It’s life cycle in Peru is usually up to 12 years. During this time it gives shade to the other plants and protects these of the merciless sun. While the balsawood tree slowly dies, the other plants and trees gain strength and after a few years are strong enough to grow without the help of the balsawood tree.
Another fast growing pioneer plant is Inga (common name shimbillo), a genus of small tropical, tough-leaved, nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs, subfamily Mimosoideae. Inga's leaves are pinnate, and flowers are generally white. Many of the hundreds of species are used ornamentally. Within the Inga genus there are around 300 species, most of them native and growing in the Amazon forest region.
Trees can reach up to 15 metres and they are widely used for producing shade over coffee plants. The plant benefits from well drained soil. The flowers are white with some green and the tree can produce fruits almost all year long.
Inga species, most notably Inga edulis (commonly known as "ice-cream-bean" or, in Spanish, "guama", "guaba", "guaba de bejuco" or "paterna" depending on the country or region) often have edible pulp. The name derives from the fact that those of I. edulis resembles vanilla ice cream in flavour. More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inga
Our mission in this second stage of the project is: to initiate and establish this natural self-reparation cycle, planting and protecting the green manure and pioneer plants. During the growth of the green manure the legumes have to be controlled in order to avoid damage to the surrounding secondary and primary rainforests. Especially Kudzu is a very aggressive territory gaining vine which covers rapidly any other plant and kills it. There must be a tight control and maintenance of the plantations. After the manures are ready, they have to be cut, shredded and left for mulching. After this the pioneer plants like the balsawood trees are being planted.
Project area 1, stage 3: Maintain the plantation alive and restore lost plants
Reforestation is the intentional restocking of formerly existing forests that have been depleted, usually through deforestation by agriculture, animal rising and mining. Reforestation is used to improve the quality of human life by producing oxygen, rebuild natural habitats and ecosystems, mitigate global warming since forests facilitate bio sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and harvest for resources, particularly timber at a certain stage.
Reforestation of large areas can be done through the use of measuring rope (for accurate plant spacing) and dibbers for making the hole in which a seedling or plant can be inserted. Indigenous soil inoculants can optionally be used to increase survival rates in hardy environments. Microbial inoculants also known as soil inoculants are agricultural amendments that use beneficial entophytes (microbes) to promote plant health.
Many of the microbes involved form symbiotic relationships with the target plants where both parties benefit (mutualism). While microbial inoculants are applied to improve plant nutrition, they can also be used to promote plant growth by stimulating plant hormone production (Bashan & Holguin, 1997; Sullivan, 2001). Research into the benefits of inoculants in agriculture extends beyond their capacity as bio fertilizers. Microbial inoculants can induce systemic acquired resistance (SAR) of crop species to several common crop diseases (provides resistance against pathogens).
A debatable issue in managed reforestation is whether or not the succeeding forest will have the same biodiversity as the original forest. If the forest is replaced with only one species of tree and all other vegetation is prevented from growing back, a monoculture forest similar to agricultural crops would be the result. However, most reforestation involves the planting of different feedlots of seedlings taken from the area often of multiple species. Another important factor is the natural regeneration of a wide variety of plant and animal species. In our project the balsawood tree which has a very short lifecycle is used only for the inicial growth of the other, more sensible, species.
During the growth of the new forest the process has to be monitored and instant action in case of deseases has to be taken. The affected plants have to be removed and new plants to be planted. This stage of the project takes up to 5 years of permanent control and maintenance.
The reestablishment of forests is not just simple tree planting. Forests are made up of a diversity of species and they build dead organic matter into soils over time. A major tree-planting program in a place like this would enhance the local climate and reduce the demands of burning large amounts of fossil fuels for cooling in the summer.
Project area 2: Create a legal frame for the protection of the recovered areas, making arrangements with the owning farmers concerning the use of the recovered areas
We are making use of the Environmental Law Manual
The Environmental Law Handbook is an initiative that gathers and consistently systematizes all existing legal and institutional laws and regulations on environmental issues in Peru. Thus, it seeks to provide a tool to facilitate the review and dissemination of national environmental legislation bringing it closer to the community, but also to those who want to defend their environmental rights, as well as learn and fulfill their environmental obligations.
In order to make this initiative more accessible www.legislacionambientalspda.org.pe was born, creating a virtual space source of information and knowledge of the legal framework for environmental matters applicable in Peru.
To facilitate access to information, the Website is divided into six major topics: General framework, sustainable use of natural resources, land tenure and indigenous peoples, environmental legislation by sector, environmental institutions and procedural matters in defense of the environment, which in turn they are divided into chapters according to specific topics of study.
The dynamism of the legal framework forces us constantly to maintain the contents of the legal basis and the legal analysis of standards related to sustainable development in Peru updated, integrating the modifications made to environmental regulations in real time in order to facilitate adequate application.
At Amazonas Recovery Project we need to make sure that our efforts will not be in vane – we have to ensure that the possession of the areas is clear beforehand, that no-one can enter into the recovered areas in order to establish farms or raising cattle destroying our reforestations or, even worse, to start mining again.
In the future there is going to be a considerable production of timber. This timber shall be sold in benefit for the organization in order to finance more recovery activities and to maintain Amazon Recovery Project and all the recovered areas alive. In our statutes we will establish, that for every tree that is being harvested there shall be five trees planted, additionally, our internal regulations demand that the ecosystem must not be disturbed for commercial interests. This way this project is going to be a sustainable circuit and nature is going to be recovered in a fast and efficient way.
In fact, there are thousands of publications that have been made during the last decades. One of our aims is to examine, summarize and resume these publications and gather the most useful content in a AMAZON RECOVERY HANDBOOK. This handbook will include, as well, the most recent legislation concerning environment, tenancy of forests, protection in a short and comprehensive way.
Please see here small selection of publications that I am revising at the moment:
Project area 3: Creation of jobs instructing the local population in vocational trainings, workshops etc.
The aim of the project is to repair damages filling the holes left behind by the miners, reforest the area with natural and local pioneer plants like the balsawood tree (ochroma pyramidale) and help nature to recover from this nightmare itself. However, this whole story will start over and over again if the people who live in and of the mining trade (more than 50,000 persons alone in Madre de Dios) are not given alternatives for creating a reasonable income.
So, reparation of past damages is one aim and prevention of future damages is another. This is planned to be achieved with instruction (vocational trainings) for men and women, promoting environmental awareness in schools, universities and at local authorities plus the setup of a training center which creates access to international markets providing language training
(English/German/Chinese) and other hard skills like internet and email marketing, social media presence and other means of promotion of the locally produced goods.
Creating this options we hope to decrease not only the mining activity but also teenage prostitution, drug consumption, crime propagation and help people to look into a brighter future producing products like fruits, vegetables, meat and many, many other amazon products not only for own or local consumption but also for export, putting that way the seed for small food and beverage or other industries.
Please see the proposal I made to encourage the creation of alternatives to mining and timber activities:
Project area 4, stage 1: Creation environmental awareness in schools, universities, businesses and local media like newspaper, radio, TV etc.
At Amazon Recovery Project we will be a multidisciplinary organization with widely spread different activities. In all of them we need to count on professionals with the required experience in order to achieve the desired results.
In the field of Environmental Awareness Creation we need to use all facets of modern communication techniques in order to get the message to all the population and make it a topic of interesting conversation. Too, it’s not only broadcasting small messages through cheap radio stations in unpopular hours – it’s a whole science. Therefore we need to count on professionals, interns and volunteers of related fields who enrich our efforts with solid knowledge about the mechanisms of successful communication.
The questions are:
- What is effective social marketing communication?
- What are the tools for reaching the target audience?
- How can we approach common barriers to effective social marketing communication?
- How will we develop effective messages and what shall be the content for which audience?
To be successful, a Environmental Awareness campaign has to reach people with a message that will help them decide to change their behavior. If the message isn't understandable, if it doesn't reach its audience, if it scares or offends them too much, if it doesn't seem to apply to them, or if it simply doesn't register at all, they won't respond.
Running an effective Environmental Awareness campaign is, as much as anything else, a matter of effective communication. In this section, we'll discuss designing, constructing, and placing messages that our target audience will respond to. We want to form specialized teams for schools, colleges, universities, institutions, communities and authorities in order to transmit a personalized
message to the audience and awake effective environmental awareness from the very young to the very old people.
Communication is really the core of any environmental campaign. Our communication has to convey our ideas and message clearly; has to be accessible by the people it's aimed at; and has to be noticeable. If people don't understand, aren't exposed to, or don't pay any attention to our message, they won't respond by changing their behavior.
Therefore, we have to pay attention to four aspects of the message in order to make sure it will be effective:
- The channels through which the communication is delivered. The message has to be delivered in language that assures that the target audience can understand it, and has to be available in places where the target audience will come in contact with it.
- The design of the message. How the communication looks, sounds, and reads will do much to determine whether the target audience will notice and pay attention to it.
- The use and choice of spokespersons. Choosing a credible spokesperson - someone whom the target audience respects and believes - can contribute hugely to the effectiveness of our message. Choosing the wrong spokesperson - someone the target audience has no reason to pay attention to, or whom they view as actively hostile - can assure that our communication will fall flat.
- The use of familiar themes and values. Using a familiar situation or idea or appealing to the values of the target audience can help to smooth the way for a new concept or a suggestion for a behavior change they hadn't considered.
We can use these four aspects of the message individually and in combination to overcome the most common barriers to environmental awareness communication:
- Ignorance. Often, members of the target population know little or nothing about the issue, and therefore don't see it as relevant.
- Selective inattention. Our issue is just one of the thousands of messages to which the target audience is subjected every day. If it doesn't have a "hook" to draw them in, they'll screen it out.
- Selective inexposure. People make it their business to stay out of the way of messages that they see as meant for groups other than theirs, or that they find frightening, discomfiting, or annoying.
- Principle. If our message contradicts the religious, moral, or cultural values of the target audience, they'll see it as hostile and wrong unless we can either convince them that another principle takes precedence in this case.
Alan Andreasen, one of the gurus of social marketing, suggests eight steps to effective social marketing communication:
- Set up outcome-linked, measurable objectives for your communication strategy.
- Develop messages that emerge from the target population, recognizing message competition.
- Select appropriate channels.
- Develop different communications for different market segments.
- Pretest every message.
- Integrate your communications program internally (make sure that your communications all say the same thing).
- Integrate your communications program with everything in the marketing mix.
- Evaluate outcomes by your original criteria.
The Tool Box adds a ninth step: Make adjustment guided by our evaluations, then we go through the process again, for as long as our campaign lasts.
Project area 4, stage 2: Involve local communities and school classes in the reforestation, recovery and maintenance of the former destroyed areas.
The Training Division, through funding provided by ARP, will be able to develop several booklets, brochures and displays to aid in educating community leaders and the public on tree selection, tree planting, tree care and maintenance, and the proper reforestation in the affected areas.
Numerous workshops and symposiums will be hold throughout the area to provide forums for discussion of reforestation efforts. Displays and information booths will be set up at weekly fairs, festivals and other public events to distribute information. Thousands of people will be reached through these events and efforts, and requests for these services will soon begin to come in. Governmental institutions like PRONAA, INRENA and others provide seedlings for free and there is absolutely no reason not to use this seedlings for the own future and the future of the following generations.
ARP will take care of the transport for these seedlings to the local communities and assist with planting in the specified areas.
Wildlife conservation and forest restoration are often mutually supportive. Use of natural seed dispersal agents to enhance reforestation has proved successful in several cases. Up to 95 percent of tropical tree species have their seeds dispersed by animals – including birds, bats, primates, rodents, ungulates and even (in seasonally flooded Amazonian forests) fish. This is why it is so important to make the people understand, that NO HUNTING will be allowed in these areas for a specified time. It’s going to be
practically a natural reservation for a clear defined period. Restricted access has to be granted only to authorized persons.
For the local population restoring the amazon ecosystem in the lost areas means future timber, nuts, natural medicine and meat of the returning fauna. These benefits have to be promoted and spread, as many local families are very concerned about the future of
their livelihood. In this context the sustainable use of these resources will be promoted in order to avoid an uncontrolled invasion and destruction, again.
Project area 5, final stage: Audit and control over the recovered areas, keep up education about environmental awareness
The recovered areas must be controlled permanently in order to detect invasive plants which could hamper the proper development of the planted (and desired) vegetation, harmful insects and certain diseases that might destroy all our efforts. This is the biological part of the control. The growth and development of the vegetation has to be monitored and registered in a database for the planning of future activities in other areas. These experiences will be shared with other organizations who share our goals in other areas and countries.
As the local communities will be harvesting timber and other products of the recovered areas in a future, the stock and possible income has to be estimated and a fee for harvesting must be calculated in order to finance the reforestation after the harvest.
Each tree will have a registration number and his records will be stored in a file. Until his harvest this tree will be property of the organization or the state and cannot be commercialized without the respective permission. After the felling of the tree there
have to be planted (and maintained) at least three new trees in order to restore and maintain a natural habitat for diverse flora and fauna.
This financial control will include the commercialization of the Balsawood trees, which establish an interesting value, as well. A periodic audit and inventory of the trees intends to make sure that the local communities comply with their part of the agreements and help to protect the recovered rainforest. Finally it’s their “Green Gold” which will render income over and over again - other as the yellow gold, which can be sold only once.