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Forest Restoration in the Ecuadorian Amazon using Ancestral Practices


Strategic Area: Climate - People -
Content Type: Blog
Country: Ecuador -

Restoration improves the structure and functionality of forests for local communities

We often hear about the devastating effects of deforestation and degradation in rainforests and ask ourselves, what can be done to stop this? Indigenous communities in the Pastaza province of Ecuador refuse to stand idly by. With the help of Nature and Culture International, they have taken on a forest restoration project to renew their ancestral degraded lands and reinvigorate the local ecosystem.

Nature and Culture, through the “Actions for the Amazon” project, is taking action to prevent and reverse deforestation in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This project will also guarantee the rights and sustainable livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and local communities through the implementation of the ancestral practice of traditional Chakra gardens.

The project began in September 2022, with the goal of restoring 235 acres of degraded land.

Due to the rate of deforestation and the need for intervention in the area, the Shuar Kawa Indigenous community was first selected from a list of priority areas by Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment. Additionally, Nature and Culture seeks to incorporate the Shuar Kawa restoration goals into Pastaza’s REDD+ Plan for the implementation of measures and actions to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (PdIPPz REDD+). The REDD+ Plans are part of a framework of the United Nations Development Project and provide long-term climate funding to support Indigenous and local communities’ conservation efforts.

People from the Shuar Kawa community actively participated in the project

The Shuar Kawa community was consulted and actively involved in the decision-making process.

With their consent, the Nature and Culture team has focused on educating local communities on the benefits of forest restoration and provided training around reforestation tactics. This way, the local communities will be able to continue the project for years to come. Initially, the team constructed a temporary nursery for the propagation of 63 native species. The seedlings will be established in local watersheds, helping to maintain groundwater and access to clean water in dryer seasons.

Seedlings from the nursery will also be used in “Chakras”, or multi-species traditional Indigenous gardens.

Traditionally, the women of the community took care of the Chakra gardens, and their position as conservationists is more important than ever within the project. Men and women have worked together to reforest the gardens using specific trees and plants that provide food security and an additional source of income.

Women are traditionally in charge of caring for the Chakras

“We did not come just to restore. By sharing and talking with the people of the communities, we have learned a lot, complementing the technical aspect with their culture and traditions”

– Amparo Lima, Restoration Specialist, Nature and Culture

Restoration is important because it allows us to recuperate the structure and functionality of forests, which improves the quality and quantity of water collected for community consumption.

So far, the team has already restored 190 acres of land.

The communities’ enthusiasm and participation have been crucial in achieving this goal.

This level of community involvement and collaboration should serve as a model for other conservation projects in Ecuador and beyond. By working together, communities and organizations can reforest portions of the Amazon Rainforest and protect the planet. This project serves as an example of what is possible when we work together to restore our natural world.