Project Restoration

As of the year 2000, 587,000 square kilometers, almost the size of Texas, of Amazonian Rainforest have been lost to ranching and road building. Seventy percent of total deforestation since 1970 is due to cattle ranching.

Don’t get depressed and stop reading because there are solutions to this seemingly insurmountable problem. In Peru the cycle of destruction starts with logging the valuable hardwoods then introducing cattle. Without planting forage crops or using rotational grazing the pastures quickly become overgrazed; the thin soil erodes and the only plants left tend to be noxious weeds and grasses. At this point the land is non-productive and is abandoned for new pastures (This is nothing like the ranches of Joel Salatin or other excellent ranching operations sprinkled around the world).

Eco Ola recently purchased an abandoned property with a large area of just such degraded pasture land (see slideshow below). We are in the process of restoring this land and turning it into an agro-forestry site. How can you farm with no soil and erosion channels everywhere? This is where we use some classic Permaculture techniques to stop the erosion and grow our own soil. A swale is a canal and mound that follows the contour of the land. By having a canal that is on constant elevation water does not flow downhill but is forced to sink into the ground where it can be accessed by plant roots during times of reduced rain. The mounds concentrate the existing organic matter, grass and weeds, to provide an initial planting area. Root and cover crops are then planted to break up the clay and allow the water to soak in. The cover crops provide organic material and fix nitrogen.

A key step to building soil fertility is introducing mycelium and the associated tree species to turn the newly available organic material into soil. We now have the beginnings of what will become a triple canopy food forest centered around Eco Ola’s Sacha Inchi. This process takes a lot of work, but also holds the key to conserving the Amazon and stabilizing our climate. The soil building process locks carbon dioxide underground for the long term.

When the local communities can earn a good living using less land and produce their own food, fuel, fiber, and medicine there is no incentive to exploit virgin jungle. In addition, when the communities are self reliant they can resist the economic coercion of extractive industries such as mining, oil, and timber. These practices implemented on a large scale will make the difference!


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