Tag Archives: reforestation

Chambira planting “minga” (cooperative work party) with Bora native artisans

by Campbell Plowden

The chambira palm tree is the most important plant to most artisans of northern Peru. They cut one young stem from the spiny palm tree and extract the fibers from its leaves to weave into a variety of handicrafts that they sell to help meet the needs of their family. While these palms regenerate well in fallow fields and forests, the intense demand for these materials has left many artisans with a dwindling supply.

CACE is surveying many artisan fields to estimate the abundance of chambira, but many artisans already recognize the need to plant more of these palms to guarantee a future supply.

Bora artisans on way to chambira planting. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora artisans on way to chambira planting. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology


On the morning of June 19, about 15 women artisans from the Bora village of Brillo Nuevo showed up in front of our local coordinator’s house in Brillo Nuevo with two chamibra palm seedlings and a few of their babies. CACE took them in two boats upriver for a “minga” – a cooperative work party to a plant the seedlings in the field of their fellow artisan Lidaberna Panduro.

Bora artisan planting chambira.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora artisan planting chambira. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology


The women divided into two groups, and a succession of women and two men helpers dug holes in parallel lines, put one chambira seedling in each hole, tamped it down with soil, and watered it from a two liter soda bottle. Three Bora women were armed with digital cameras on loan from CACE to help record the joint venture.

Below are more photo highlights of the day.

Ania Ruiz and Ines Chichaco on boat to chambira planting. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Ania Ruiz and Ines Chichaco on boat to chambira planting. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Dalila Arirama and baby on boat. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Dalila Arirama and baby on boat. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Maria Roque and daughter with chambira seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Maria Roque and daughter with chambira seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Raquel Lopez with chambira seedlings. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Raquel Lopez with chambira seedlings. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora women at chamibra planting.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora women at chamibra planting. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Lucila Flores and Ines Chichaco at chambira planting. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Lucila Flores and Ines Chichaco at chambira planting. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Alejandrina Lopez planting chambira. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Alejandrina Lopez planting chambira. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Kori Vasquez planting chambira. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Kori Vasquez planting chambira. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Maria Roque planting chambira. Photo by Gisela Ruiz/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Maria Roque planting chambira. Photo by Gisela Ruiz/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Lucila Flores with chamibira seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Lucila Flores with chamibira seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Raquel Lopez planting chambira seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Raquel Lopez planting chambira seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Hermelinda Lopez watering chambira seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Hermelinda Lopez watering chambira seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Sawing chambira stem. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Sawing chambira stem. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Cyriocosmus spp. tarantula at chambira planting.  ID by Mark Pennell - British Tarantula Society. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Cyriocosmus spp. tarantula at chambira planting. ID by Mark Pennell – British Tarantula Society. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Lidaberna Panduro carrying chambira leaves. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Lidaberna Panduro carrying chambira leaves. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Lidaberna Panduro carrying chambira away from field. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Lidaberna Panduro carrying chambira away from field. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

CACE project progress in Peru 2013 (update #1)

by Campbell Plowden

Kids in hammock at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Kids in hammock at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Every summer, I take a break from supporting CACE work in Peru from afar to join our project team in the Amazon. I’ve gotten used to spending a full day in a boat to reach a remote village, visiting nasty outhouses, and tolerating bites from chiggers, mosquitoes, and the occasional piraña. What I love is getting to know families in our partner native communities along the Ampiyacu River.

Bora native artisan Segundina Silva with hat band model HB15A. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora native artisan Segundina Silva with hat band model HB15A. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Their days may include harvesting yucca roots from a field, canoeing to a lake to fish, or climbing trees to gather pijuayo palm fruits to eat. They have to be creative and work extra hard to buy other necessities or send their children to a better school because traditional jobs don’t exist there and markets can be far. I’m thrilled that our project is helping over a hundred artisans to make and sell new handicrafts, and our plans to produce new essential oils are making good progress. See a summary of recent activities below. Our small group’s trials, errors, positive results and persistence have earned our partners’ trust that we have a long-term investment in their success.

Heart Magic distiller

Heart Magic distiller

Please consider sharing this commitment with us by becoming a Recurring Donor. A generous GlobalGiving supporter will provide a 100% match for the first gift made any new Recurring Donor given by this Friday, August 30. Visit our project page on GlobalGiving” project page and click on Monthly Recurring under the Donate button. We also invite our supporters to become a Fundraiser for our project on GlobalGiving. Create your own page on the site and use your creativity and personal network to help us raise an additional $3000 to buy and send a commercial-scale essential oil distiller to our project in Peru. GlobalGiving is offering prizes for successful Fundraisers in September. To get started, click the green Fundraiser button on our project page.

Here are a few highlights of our project activities this summer. See some photos of these below.

Copal resin lump at Jenaro Herrera. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Copal resin lump at Jenaro Herrera. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

1. One field team measured the condition of 900 rosewood tree seedlings planted in February and continued monitoring the growth of resin lumps on copal trees around Brillo Nuevo and Jenaro Herrera. We hope to start distilling rosewood leaves and copal resin into marketable essential oils in two to three years with a higher capacity still.

2. We worked with artisans in four villages to develop new woven handicrafts including hair barrettes, hat bands, water bottle carriers, cell phone carriers and animal figure holiday tree ornaments.

3. We continued our survey of chambira palms in artisan fields, supported a cooperative artisan effort to plant more chambira in one woman’s fallow field and continued promoting the use of pruning saws for low-impact harvest of chambira stems used for weaving crafts.

Brillo Nuevo artisan planting guisador dye plant. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Brillo Nuevo artisan planting guisador dye plant. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

4. We assisted women artisans to create a joint garden for dye plants in an upland area safe from flooding and continued documenting the use of these in a manual being made for artisans. Watch our new video about the dye plant Mishquipanga on YouTube.

5. We finished painting the community pharmacy in Brillo Nuevo built with a social rebate from CACE handicraft sales and officially turned over the keys of the pharmacy over to community leaders. We also delivered some medical supplies donated by the Nittany Valley Medical Center to the Jenaro Herrera health clinic and bought others to assist its child delivery and general use with social rebate funds from CACE sales of holiday ornaments made by Jenaro artisans. Read more and see more photos about this story.

Painting community pharmacy at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Painting community pharmacy at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

6. We held three workshops to teach young Bora men and women how to use a digital camera to record their activities in the forest, field and home.

Thank you very much for your interest and support for our project. Please contact us with any questions, comments or ideas.

Photo gallery

Kids in hammock at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Kids in hammock at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Heart Magic distiller

Heart Magic distiller

Bora native artisan Segundina Silva with hat band model HB15A. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora native artisan Segundina Silva with hat band model HB15A. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora man measuring rosewood seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora man measuring rosewood seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Copal resin lump at Jenaro Herrera. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Copal resin lump at Jenaro Herrera. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Ines Chichaco with Amazon hat band. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Ines Chichaco with Amazon hat band. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Amzon Hair barrette. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Amzon Hair barrette. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora artisan and sisa dyed chambira. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora artisan and sisa dyed chambira. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Brillo Nuevo artisan planting guisador dye plant. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Brillo Nuevo artisan planting guisador dye plant. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Digital camera workshop for Bora men. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Digital camera workshop for Bora men. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Painting community pharmacy at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Painting community pharmacy at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Luke Plowden with new stethoscope for Jenaro Herrera clinic. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Luke Plowden with new stethoscope for Jenaro Herrera clinic. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Pirana at Jenaro Herrera. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Pirana at Jenaro Herrera. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Peeling yuca roots at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community EcologyPeeling yuca roots at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Peeling yuca roots at Brillo Nuevo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Rosewood reforestation launched in the Ampiyacu

Rosewood seedlings at nursery at Jenaro Herrera. Photo by Italo Melendez/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Rosewood seedlings at nursery at Jenaro Herrera. Photo by Italo Melendez/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

The Center for Amazon Community Ecology and its ally NGO Camino Verde have carried out the first phase of a reforestation and essential oil production project in the Ampiyacu region. In early February, we had 900 young rosewood trees (Aniba roseaodora) ready to deliver to their new home down river.

Carrying rosewood seedlings from Brillo Nuevo to family field.  Photo by Italo Melendez/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Carrying rosewood seedlings from Brillo Nuevo to family field. Photo by Italo Melendez/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

CACE’s field assistant Italo Melendez accompanied the seedlings on their journey from the government nursery in Jenaro Herrera by truck to the port where they were transferred to a ferry boat to go down the Ucayali River to Iquitos and then completed their journey by speed boat to Brillo Nuevo.

Robin van Loon from Camino Verde, Yully Rojas from CACE and Bora family who planted rosewood seedlings in their forest field. Photo by Italo Melendez/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Robin van Loon from Camino Verde, Yully Rojas from CACE and Bora family who planted rosewood seedlings in their forest field. Photo by Italo Melendez/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

The young rosewoods were divvied up by the five families who had won a chance in a village lottery to plant one of the first batches of these aromatic trees. Each family then brought its crates of seedlings to a patch of secondary forest to plant with guidance from Camino Verde’s director Robin van Loon.

Bora boy tending rosewood seedling. Photo by Yully Rojas Reategui/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Bora boy tending rosewood seedling. Photo by Yully Rojas Reategui/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Ampiyacu project manager Yully Rojas reported that most of the seedlings were growing well in early April although a few had been chewed by hungry grasshoppers and others had been lifted by jealous neighbors. We are now exploring larger distillation units to extract oil from a modest harvest of leaves in several years. See more photos of the Rosewood seedling journey and reforestation in Brillo Nuevo.