Bosque Medicinal & Forest.ink present at the Universidad de Azuay, Cuenca

On April 19th, the weekend before Earth Day, as part of Bosque Medicinal, we had the pleasure of presenting at the Universidad de Azuay in Cuenca, Ecuador. We were there to present the importance of conservation to the students of both tourism and psychology. Preservation of the rainforest was examined from many angles, including its social, economic, and global importance. The discussions focused on the local rainforests of Ecuador, and why it is necessary for fields as diverse as biology, tourism, and psychology to maintain them.

 

Professor Fredy Iván Nurga began by explaining the El Paraiso protected park. This protected park was initiated by the local community in order to conserve the abundant life in the cloud forests and rainforests of El Paraiso. The protected territory is nearly 560,000 hectares large, and ranges in altitude from 1-2000 meters. As this is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, the field of biology benefits greatly from its protection. It is this territory that we are helping to protect, by purchasing neighboring land with the foundation Bosque Medicinal.

 

Bosque Medicinal presented on the sociological importance of the role of nature. In a study conducted by the Universidad de Azuay a variety of metrics used to measure psychological well-being were improved with a single trek into the raw jungles of El Paraiso. Bosque Medicinal also discussed the some of the traditions and beliefs of some of the local indigenous populations. Often these traditions remind us of the lessons we can learn from nature, and how they persist in being culturally significant in the modern world for our health and happiness.

 

Continuing the discussions, we also spoke of the long-term benefit of maintaining healthy rainforests for commerce, particularly as it relates to tourism. The opportunity the rainforests present for new forms of tourism stand to greatly benefit the local economy, if rainforests of Ecuador are preserved. Interest in experiencing these large jungles in a primal form has been increasing from multiple disciplines. Eco-tourism is on the rise, as is scientific interest in studying rainforests from an anthropologic, psychologic, and biologic perspective. Conservation and projects like the refuge being co-constructed by Bosque Medicinal and Forest.ink will help these opportunities blossom.

 

The role rainforests play was also discussed as it relates to a larger system, that of our planet. The impact the rainforests have had on modern life are numerous and extensive. For example, many common household fruit, vegetables, spices, and nuts originated in the rainforest, with the vast abundance having yet to be explored further outside the region. One quarter of modern medicine has origins in the rainforest, and science has only just begun exploring the huge volume of the plants and life of the rainforests. Furthermore, we are continuously discovering new marvelous ways that these ecosystems influence climate of the planet. Recent discoveries have shown that rainforests themselves create conditions that attract and generate rain. They have a further impact on the entire planet, influencing rain and wind patterns globally. Protecting these ecosystems, vital components of the planet, benefits us all.

 

The session concluded with a small tobacco ceremony, available to the students and teachers that attended. Tobacco is one of the many plants that we do not understand or use properly in many modern cultures. Knowledge of a different connection and use with tobacco has persisted with indigenous cultures of the rainforests. We had the pleasure of sharing this different understanding and experience with the students and faculty brave enough to join us. Yana gifted us with her beautiful voice and musical talents, brining song to complete the ceremony.

The entire event went over so well, that we were invited back for a second round with more students and faculty later that evening. All of us from Bosque Medicinal were thrilled to be invited and delighted at the reception to our perspective and tales by the students and faculty of the Universidad de Azuay. We are already looking forward to returning soon.

 

Forest.ink attains Association status in the Czech Republic

We are proud to announce that our organization, Forest.ink, is now officially an Association in Czech Republic, enabling it legal rights to purchase, hold, and preserve land, keeping it free from development!
In anticipation of being able to care for and protect the rainforests through reforestation and conservation, we celebrated with Bosque Medicinal by planting banana and moringa trees!

Thank you to all of our supporters, from us, and from the forests we live with, for helping with Nature’s conservation.

INTERVIEW WITH ROMAN, OF BOSQUE MEDICINAL

For how long have you been living in Ecuador and why did you decide to come here?

Around 2002 I lived in Spain where I met Ecuadorian master from the Shuaru tribe. Our encounter was so intense that I immediately wanted to see the country of his tradition’s origin. I was magnetized by the rainforest. During my second visit of Ecuador in the beginning of 2011 I had the luck of staying with shaman’s Miguel Chiriap family in shuarian community Kupiamais, near Gualaquiza town in Ecuadorian Amazonia. The following month I lived in another shuarian community – San Carlos – together with another Czech native Miroslav Vojtko known as Mira Jempe. Close contact with nature has made such an impact on me that I decided to move from Czech republic to Ecuador. By that time I have been thinking a lot about my unborn children. Children living in Amazonian rainforest seemed so much happier, healthier and more self-sufficient that those in my homeland. I wanted my children to be the same. Personally I wanted to better understand myself, the nature, its protection, medicinal plants and their use for healing. Nowadays I have been living here for almost five years together with my partner Snezenka. My daughter is three years old and my job is gardening and healing.

What is the situation in Ecuadorian rainforest and South America in general like?

The situation is much worse than I ever thought. At school we’ve been told that Amazonia is the lungs of our planet. The trees produce oxygen. But one third of Amazonia’s rainforest vanished from the Earth. 750 000 km² of rainforest has been cut down since 1978. For comparison – Czech republic covers 78 866 km². That means that our planet’s lungs can only work as good as those of a chainsmoker. Another important function of a rainforest is to retain water. This can be done thanks to its specific clima. By deforestation this natural function of the landscape is destroyed. For example making pastures for cattle breeding, mainly cows, destroys forests not only in Amazonia bu also forests of other climate belts, for example mountain and misty forests. It’s hard to find a continuous forest belt here in Ecuador. Unfortunately, arid mountain ridges instead of green woods can nowadays be seen everywhere, be it Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, Bolivia, Venezuela or Brasil. The third problem is the large-scale production of oil, gold, silver, copper, uranium and other materials. Foreign corporations take advantage of corrupt politicians and imperfect environmental laws in the so-called “third world” countries and happily contaminate underground water supplies, poison the air and slash the forests. One example is currently starting (7/2016) mining of gold, silver, copper and uranium at 70000 ha of the protected area Cordillera de Condor, or the oil production in Yasuni National Park. It is alarming that these foreign companies ignore the fact that one hectar of these protected areas is a home for more plant species than whole continent of North America is. None of the companies repairs the damage caused by mining. Disruption of rare and fragile biodiversity affects the lives of many animal and plant species. People are not an exception – there is evidence showing the change of climate and mercury can be found in rivers from which people are used to drink water and catch fish.

Why do you think that the project of establishing reserve and building educational center with botanical garden is important?

The project to support ecological reserve El Paraíso is focused mainly on conserving the rainforest and its biodiverstiy. The territory called Area de conservación y Reserva Ecologica “El Paraiso” (El Paraíso means Paradise) in the Ecuadorian province of Morona Santiago is a part of nature reserve Runahurco and it covers an area of 588,907 ha. Reserve is self- governed by the residents of Tumbez village and it lies 27 km north of Gualaquiza town in Morona Santiago province. Part of the reserve and its surroundings lie on lots of private owners. These are offered for sale and that puts the reserve at great risk. If we manage to buy these lots in time, we can protect them, reforest them and later connect them to the reserve. We want to build botanical garden and educational center where everyone will be able to learn about the importance of such fragile ecosystem as rainforest is. For example there is a lot of Sangre de Drago (Dragon’s Blood) trees, Uňa de Gato (Cat’s Claw) lianas or Ayahuasca (Liana of the Soul) lianas. Future visitor of the centre will have the possibility to get to know these plants, the environment where they grow, their healing effects and traditional form of their use. For the reforestation project there will be a nursery with the seedlings of trees and other plants. We know that this is just a grain of sand in the dessert of work that has to be done to maintain a sustainable life on Earth. Who knows where the humanity is heading… But I think that is it important to have a positive example. We are inspired by projects that have already been succesful. Maybe also our project will inspire someone who does not want to sit idly by anymore. We all are beings with big creative potential and we can change the world around us. Being aware of this gives me hope. I believe that in the future we will live in harmony with nature and with ourselves.