Our reforestation project in Peru is implemented in the province of San Martin, in the upper part of the Peruvian Amazonian Rainforest. The largest city in the region is Tarapoto, where URKU Amazonian Studies Institute – our local partner - is headquartered.
URKU collaborates with the Indigenous community cooperative Mushuk Runa, Ltd. which is comprised of Quechua communities in the municipalities of Yaku Sisa and San Juan de Miraflores. The proposed reforestation will occur in conjunction with their ongoing program “Sustainable Management and Marketing of Maya Nut: Eco-Commerce for Rainforest Conservation and Food Security for the Quechua people of san Pablo”
URKU and Mushuk Runa will plant with Reforest'Action a minimum of 60,000 Maya Nut trees annually in 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have 1000ha of deforested land which borders a community owned and managed conservation concession. The communities have a history of eating Maya Nut during times of food shortages and using it for trade but unfortunately, most of the Maya Nut forest has been logged for timber or cleared to plant annual crops. Maya Nut is an ideal species for reforestation because the trees are more valuable alive, for food, than cut for timber. Maya Nut is very resistant to climate changes (drought and tropical storms) and could potentially play an important role in future food security.
Since the Maya Nut Institute started work in 2001, more than 600 rural and indigenous women have formed 25 different autonomous businesses to produce and market Maya Nut products and to teach workshops to other women.
Women are the primary beneficiaries of this program. The Maya Nut Institute (MNI) works with women because they are a critical link between the family and the environment, and because they are responsible for the health of the family. MNI found that healthy families are better able to care for the environment because they can make sound decisions based on logic, rather than desperate decisions based on immediate need for food, medicine or school materials.
Children benefit directly from MNI programs as well. They work in some of the most acutely malnourished communities in the world, where developmental delays in children are distressingly common. MNI work to educate parents about the nutritional value of Maya Nut so they can include it in the family diet. They also work in schools and are implementing the Healthy Kids, Healthy Forests, Maya Nut School Lunch program in several schools in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador in 2014.