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Earlier this month Amazonas Explorer joined forces with non- profit Ecoan and the communities of Lares for another year reforesting Lares, a traditional stronghold of the Peruvian Andes.
California based agent Global Basecamps joined to sponsor 10,000 trees in the community of Cuncani, a popular place to camp for many trekkers on this alternative Inca Trail trek. 75,000 trees native Queuña trees will be planted during December and January, spread amongst various Lares communities such as Huacahuasi, Patacancha and Tambohuaylla.
“It is part of my companies commitment to 1% for the Planet” says Paul Cripps, owner of Amazonas Explorer.
“ 1% of our turnover goes straight back to the Lares communities. Eight years ago we started to pay these communities to raise Queuñua seedlings. And every year since 2007 we plant them hand in hand with the people of Lares.”
“But of course there is no point in planting hundreds of thousands of trees if they all die” adds Tino Aucca, President of Ecoan and along with Cripps, the driving force behind Queñua Raymi.
This year Ecoan conducted a study to see exactly how many plants survive. Of the 57,000 planted in 2014, 95% were found to be in a very good state of growth. Anyone trekking through the Lares area can see the success of this project, with the earlier trees now reaching one and a half metres.
“What I love about this project”, said Breanne Kiefer of Global Basecamps who had flown out especially to join in, “Is the passion shown by the communities. It was so impressive to see everyone from old ladies to tiny children all down on their knees planting trees. Quite literally the whole village was there. Community involvement is important when choosing a project to support.
“That is precisely why we work with Ecoan” says Cripps. “At first the locals thought we were mad, but now they coming knocking on my door, asking for help to plant more trees. Ecoan are just so good at going into these remote communities and educating them and getting them on board. They have earned their trust.
The locals understand the importance of native trees for their water supply, as well as for bigger reasons such as cleaning the air and storing oxygen. They are planting for their future, to ensure that in a hundred years time their communities will still be there.”
And what of the future?
“ Fences” says Cripps. “We are going to start adding fences to protect the trees from grazing animals. Lares is rare amongst trekking routes in that all the land belongs to the communities. There are no private owners here. The communities want to protect their trees. This just would not work so well on other trekking routes, due to the land being privately owned. You can spend thousands planting trees only for one landowner to change his mind and knock half of them down. But here the communities are strong, they will protect their trees.”
“Oh, and one million”, he adds. “ We are going to plant one million.” And with that he picks up his pick and heads back up the hill to carry on planting.
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