Community Nursery Developed at RECOVER

Over the last few months, Alianza Arkana has been collaborating with the Rainforest Ecoversity Center (RECOVER) in an exciting new permaculture project. RECOVER is a Peruvian non-profit founded by Limber Cabrera and based in Yarinacocha, Pucallpa. Limber, who learned about permaculture in Peru, Brazil and Germany was also co-founder of the permaculture non-profit REDPAL-Peru along with Alianza Arkana’s Permaculture specialist Marcos Urquia. After many years working on permaculture projects throughout the Amazon, Limber, with the support of Lush Cosmetics, UK, decided to create a center that could facilitate the upscaling of permaculture in the Peruvian Amazon and to make a positive impact in rural communities in his home province of Ucayali.

Limber saw that one of the greatest challenges to improving agricultural practices in the region, specifically around the urban center of Pucallpa, was the frequent fire outbreaks resulting from the use of slash and burn methods by local agriculturalists. Uncontrolled fire regimes have created a cycle of dependence upon annual staple crop rotations. This has prevented farmers from implementing perennial polyculture systems, such as shade-grown cacao, which would give ecological stability, reliable crop yields and more lucrative market opportunities.

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In response to this, RECOVER was created to regenerate degraded lands using designed productive ecosystems that mimic the natural Amazonian ecosystem. Three years ago, RECOVER began by implementing a firebreak around their 42 hectare site to prevent fires from spreading from neighbouring land. The rainforest vegetation at RECOVER’s site, since implementing the firebreak, has now grown to 15 metres high in many places and biodiversity thrives once again.

One of Alianza Arkana´s objectives in collaborating with RECOVER is to create a germplasm bank that can be shared throughout the region with our mutual partner communities. Three examples of species that have recently been acquired include:

• 600,000 Capirona, a high quality timber for traditional construction
• 10,000 Cacao, a superfood and high value cash crop
• 3,000 Inga (Ice-cream bean), a nitrogen-fixing species that speeds up forest regeneration and soil building and also provides a delicious fruit.

Some of these seeds are already germinated and will soon be ready to plant, reforesting local areas. Other species include Bolaina and Tornillo (two more timber species) and Aguaje, a fruit-producing palm which is high in vitamin A and a regional favorite.

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These species, obtained from regional agriculturalists, are becoming scarcer due to deforestation,land-use change and increased urban migration. The seedlings growing at RECOVER will be used for the benefit of local communities, including Alianza Arkana’s partner Shipibo communities of San Francisco, Nuevo Egipto, San Salvador, and Puerto Firmeza, which will be able to reincorporate these fruit and timber yielding species into their permaculture design plans.

In line with Alianza Arkana´s model of sustainability, the nursery has been developed with the active participation of 14 families from the neighboring mestizo community of 7 de Junio. This community was chosen due to its close proximity to the RECOVER site. In time, we hope to extend the project´s benefits to other communities in the vicinity. In five workshops thus far held at RECOVER, these 14 families have learned permaculture methods of selecting and constructing a nursery area, land preparation (creating seed beds and irrigation systems) soil preparation (increasing the organic content of soil), maintaining the nursery, and germination techniques.

b2ap3_thumbnail_100_2656-HDTV-1080.JPGIn order to support activities in the nursery, work has been completed to improve the watering system. A new, larger tank was bought, increasing water capacity by 2500 liters. Additionally, 10 meters of PVC tubing to connect the water supply between tanks, and 200 meters of hose for watering have been added. Consequently, there is more water available for the nursery and dry season horticulture practices.

Continued funding will allow Alianza Arkana to further develop this project, meaning more communities can benefit from this strategy to regenerate degraded lands, and incorporate reforestation and perennial polycropping into their agricultural production.

Deborah Rivett, Monday, 11 March 2013

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