Protecting the Amazon forest with Kichwa farmers
When we hand-harvest the Quinine-rich bark of the Cinchona tree in Ecuador for our hair strengthening range, we do so with due respect to the local environment – The Amazon rainforest!
But just a few hundred kilometers away, near the farms of the indigenous Kichwa people, the forest is under threat. Through our Botanical Foundation, we work closely with the local communities to ensure both the preservation of the forests and of the indigenous Kichwa culture.
Growing the forest back
The local population is growing quickly and farmers living by the edge of the forest are running out of land and finding it harder to meet their daily needs. As they end up cutting trees to gain extra land, the forest is slowly receding.
Is the Amazon rainforest condemned to lose acres of trees every year? Not if we learn how to make a living out of it... sustainably while planting new trees. That's where we join Ishpingo, an organisation that's already active in the Amazon, to help put in place new ecological and sustainable ways of managing the land, consisting of reforesting, developing agroforestry, and sharing valuable know-how to help the forest and the crops to live in harmony.
Establishing community nurseries to plant 15 000 trees
In order to protect the rainforest while simultaneously improving farmers' quality of life the Kichwa farmers need to access new equipment and methods. 6 communal plant nurseries (mingas) have been created with sound ecological practices shared with the volunteering families. The nurseries are also monitored and maintained to ensure their viability and performance
Preserving endangered local trees
We plant at least 15 different varieties in each orchard to encourage biodiversity, prioritising endangered trees to restore their populations:
- big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla),
- cedrorana or tornillo (Cedreling cateniformis),
- guayacán (Tabebuia sp.),
- pinga (Aspidosperma sp.)
- cedro (Cedrela odorata)
- mindal (Simira standleyi)
Beforehand, Ishpingo runs in-depth research in the forest or at the nearby farms to identify the remaining seed supplying mother-trees in endangered species. By offering their owners the opportunity to sell these seeds instead of cutting the trees down, the owners are incentivised to protect them!
Agroforestry – a source of revenue
More trees doesn’t mean that current crops must be eradicated. It is possible to reforest plots that are already being cultivated or to plant trees on their edges. Food-producing crops, fruit trees and timber can fully cohabit. Following the principles of agroforestry gives short and long terms benefits from these new trees, without harming ecosystems. The more varieties there are, the better the natural resistance against diseases. Developing these sustainable practices makes room for trees so they have a useful place in the economic and social life of the local families through medicine, handcrafting, food, furniture and house building.
75 Kichwa families
Klorane Botanical Foundation helps 75 families reforest their land while being able to draw food and income from it. The families receive both collective and individual training to run the nurseries and plant trees, as well as to manage their production and fruit plots.
Acting today is great thing, but investing in our future is even better. We aim to help the younger generations access these sustainable practices too. Together with Ishpingo we will
- Raise awareness around sustainable development among 100 kids in 3 schools,
- Create a nursery and an arboretum of at least 100 fruit-bearing seedlings and timber at these schools,
- Help each one of them plant a small orchard at their farm.
Farmers are on board
The initiatives run by Ishpingo have been a great success with some local farmers looking at ways to enlarge their crops using these new eco-friendly methods.
Together with the Kichwas, we are helping to restore the Amazon.
Discover all the initiatives Klorane Botanical Foundation undertakes to preserve biodiversity here.