In Santa Clara, Permaculture has become a tool for reforestation

You can also read this post in Spanish and in French.

In the indigenous community of Santa Clara, Alianza Arkana is conducting a Permaculture project with three main goals: reforestation, food security and preservation of the Shipibo culture.

Marcos is managing the permaculture project in the Native Community of Santa Clara.

But why should we reforest the Amazon? In Peru, deforestation is killing the rainforest, because of oil extraction, illegal wood harvesting and the plantation of palm oil trees or other forms of devastating monocultures.

The following pictures were taken at the beginning of the project, in order to show you the desolate landscape:

In permaculture design, the zones are essential. This method consists in ensuring that each element is correctly placed by using two questions: How often do we need to use the element? And how often do we need to service the element? The zones are numbered from 0 to 5, the main zone – zone 0 – being the centre point. Then the zones are drawn from this centre point, where human activity and need for attention is most concentrated, to where there is no need for intervention at all. Therefore the last zone – zone 5 – contains a wild natural ecosystem, free from human intervention.

In Santa Clara, zone 0 is the school, as the project aims to ensure food security for the children of the community. Indeed, the idea is to produce enough food for the school meals. Here reforestation also means nutrition: all the plants and trees produce fruits, vegetables or medicinal plants useful to the community.

The following pictures represent the different zones of the project:


In zone 1 there are the volunteers’ house, the composting latrines, the school vegetable garden, the nursery, the chicken house and a place where bananas, papayas and many different vegetables are growing according to the season of the year.

In zone 2 we can find bananas, some medicinal plants, fruit trees and tubers such as yuca.

For the moment, zone 3 is mainly an orchard, but the idea is to build a fish farm in order to generate a sustainable income for the community to fund the project.

Alianza Arkana wants to reforest zone 4, and Marcos has already started planting many medicinal trees that will be useful for the community. The weed you can see is called casahucha: it grows wildly on lands that have suffered from frequent burnings, consequence of the slash-and-burn techniques. Their roots tend to kill those of other plants, and this is why the project has to progress slowly: each zone has to be cleared before sowing new plants, and then it is necessary to ensure that the casahucha will not kill the young trees.

Zone 5 is meant to be the place of a wild natural ecosystem. As everything was deforested here, Alianza Arkana is working to recreate these ecosystems, using Fukuoka’s technique of seed bombs: we mix different seeds that we coat with clay before sowing them roughly. Then nature takes over, allowing some seeds to grow and recreating slowly a natural area.

The reforestation project also aims to preserve the Shipibo culture by celebrating the different plants used in medicinal practices. The Maloka has been renovated by the members of the community to host shamanic ceremony, especially that of Ayahuasca.

To reach the Maloka, Marcos started to create a medicinal path including many local medicinal plants.

Many new ideas are about to be implemented in 2017 to make this project self-sustainable. They will allow the community to manage the project while generating an income and reforestating the area, and they will be a new step towards food security and the preservation of the Shipibo culture!

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