• Amazon Aromatics

Many or most Amazonian hardwood trees contain some kind of chemical defenses against their most common predators: fungi and bacteria, moisture and termites. The best timbers are those that resist decay in its many forms and so it’s unsurprising that many of the Amazon’s finest timbers also possess notable chemical defenses, often in the form of oils and resins.

Dozens, even hundreds of species produce compounds that are medicinal or otherwise useful to man. And some of these trees also happen to smell wonderful. The Amazon is a forest of many saps and, we’ve found, a forest of many aromas.

Since 2010, Camino Verde has been working to keep Amazonian trees alive by researching and developing the essential oils contained in leaves, bark, branches, wood and flowers of Amazonian trees that would otherwise be cut for their timber. We’ve found that many trees can give sustainable harvests of leaves rich in essential oils without harming the trees. And if it’s more profitable to keep a tree alive than to cut it down for wood, people will keep the trees alive.

Our focus in the first phase of the project has been working with several genera in the Lauraceae family, a family that includes many familiar aromatic plants including Cinnamon, Bay Laurel, and Camphor. In the Amazon, the Lauraceae sub-group commonly known as moenas includes many unique aromatic trees, the most famous of which, Brazilian rosewood, was driven almost to extinction for its essential oil.

Now we’re working to reforest and develop products from these trees, giving incentives to local farmers to plant rather than fell these amazing-scented Amazonian giants.

  • Farmer Innovators

From Ampiyacu in the North to Tambopata in the South our partner farmers are piloting the strategies that work to restore the Amazon rainforest while sustaining dignified livelihoods for families and whole communities. Master agro-ecologists in training throughout the Peruvian Amazon, our farmers are the future face of restoration going viral.

Upon merging with CACE, Camino Verde will now be working with over 16 native and mestizo communities of forest farmers in the northern and southern Peruvian Amazon to develop innovative strategies that will conserve and restore rainforests, create sustainable livelihoods, and support healthy communities. The cornerstone of this initiative so far is helping more than 200 artisans to develop and market innovative fair-trade handicrafts. Our cooperative efforts with select families to grow rosewood trees and harvest copal resin from primary forest to produce high-value essential oils are examples of integrating our partners into a regenerative supply chain.

We will augment these training programs with innovative agro-forestry approaches to increase their production of new food products for family use and sale. Most of our community partners are strategically located near major protected areas so empowering them to improve their quality of life with creative use of their natural resources will reinforce their role as forest protectors

  • Amazon Regeneration Program

Our cutting edge work in Amazonian regeneration has historically centered on our Living Seed Bank and reforestation center. Deep in the heart of the Amazon, home to over 350 species of trees planted so far, source of seeds for the future, the AR program is about making reforestation tangible and demonstrating the way forward. Our two 10,000+ seedling-per-year tree nurseries are the other key component of AR.

Camino Verde has a unique reforestation center and living seed bank deep in the heart of the Earth’s greatest biodiversity hotspot in Madre de Dios, Peru. We have so far planted over 350 species of trees in our living laboratory at Baltimori along the Tambopata River. Our biodiversity nursery at Baltimori and its newer companion near the city of Puerto Maldonado now produce over 10,000 seedlings per year of over 100 species. We are learning how to propagate sensitive species, measure how well they grow, and assess the benefits of planting trees and other plants with complementary ecological functions together (mixed agro-forestry systems).

AR sites are producing abundant seeds and seedlings to regenerate threatened species and degraded landscapes. Branches, leaves, fruits and resins are being carefully harvested from mature trees to produce aromatic oils, medicines, fibers and food that can be consumed directly by forest peoples or processed and sold to create sustainable income. The AR program is a living laboratory for us to learn, share and apply lessons with people at our sites, partner communities and other areas. Four vivid examples of AR’s progress:

Annual campaigns that have so far planted over 20,000 trees

Conservation of 250 acres of primary rainforest that we own, and an additional adjoining 500 acres that we manage in conjunction with other local partners
Development of a novel essential oil from “moena alcanforada” (a relative of the rosewood tree)

A cooperative agreement with a Wake Forest University program to reforest 42 hectares of previously forested land degraded by mining operations (supplying 10,000 seedlings of 30 species each year to the program)

  • Carbon Offsets

Camino Verde partners with businesses, organizations, and individuals to offset carbon footprints (CO2 emissions) through reforestation and other methods. We develop unique, innovative programs in direct collaboration with each partner to best meet their needs. Our carbon offset programs represent an important fundraising tool, as donors “adopt” trees we plant and contribute to their maintenance.
Please contact us to explore developing a carbon offset partnership for your company, your oganization, or your personal carbon footprint.

A few of our vital partnerships:

Zackin Publications is the publisher of Solar Industry Magazine and North American Windpower and more. In 2010, Camino Verde planted over 750 trees in honor of Zackin Publications. These “Zackin Publications trees” will absorb an amount of CO2 each year equivalent to the emissions created by the paper used in the production of their magazines.

C6 is a design company that makes durable, stylish accessories “for your digital life.” Starting in 2011, the company has supported Camino Verde´s efforts to absorb and capture CO2 through the use of agricultural charcoal, also known as biochar.

Shaman´s Market is an online store offering a wide range of handicrafts, incens es, foods, and more. Since 2009, making them our longest carbon offset partner, Shaman´s Market has offered customers the option of voluntarily adding $2 to their order total to offset the carbon foo tprint associated with shipping orders. This goes toward tree planting activities by Camino Verde.

Runcato Shop is an online store offering handcrafted Peruvian products. Similar to Shaman´s Market, Runcato offers carbon offsets for shipping through donations to Camino Verde´s tree planting campaigns. Starting in 2013, Runcato and Camino Verde partner for a very special tree-planting initiative– details to be announced.

TrancePlants.net is an organization interested in the traditional use of medicinal and healing incenses in a healing and exploration context. TrancePlants donates 5% of all profits to Camino Verde.

  • Center for Amazon Community Ecology (CACE)

Our research, policy, and advocacy branch seeks to further the state of knowledge and practice, research and implementation, toward best practices through a careful evaluation of our restoration models and the experiences of others. We road test replicable models and design the mechanisms to take them to scale.

CACE was founded as a non-profit organization in 2006 and joined with Camino Verde in 2017 to become its focal program for research and policy. Our research studies key ecological aspects of the species we work with, explores practical ways to restore endangered tree species and degraded landscapes, and helps design best practices to sustainably harvest non-timber forest products (NTFPs) from both wild and cultivated plants. The role of the research is to first develop and test models at a small-scale and later apply and evaluate their results in larger areas with more people and communities.

We collaborate with forest people, other investigators, and institutions to conduct our research and widely share its results with the scientific community, forestry and development practitioners, NGOs, forest communities, government agencies and others who may be able to apply our lessons in their own work or share our recommendations with others. CACE’s pioneering research on the ecology and sustainable harvest of copal resin, for example, will be used to create the first management plan for an NTFP of its kind as well as the first plan for harvesting any NTFP in the Ampiyacu – Apayacu Regional Conservation Area. The work being done at Baltimori could form the basis for numerous publications about the silviculture of many tree species which despite being heavily logged have never been studied.

  • Food Forests

Our Living Seed Bank is an effort to collect, catalog, and grow as many different important Amazonian tree species as possible. Of vital importance to this collection are the over 70 species of trees planted to date that have edible fruits or seeds.

The seven acres (three hectares) of fruit trees that we currently manage include a stunningly diverse range of native and tropical fruits, from Avocado to Zapote. Though our emphasis is on fruit from the region– and especially underutilized species with economic potential, from cashew to açaí to noni to camu camu– we have sought out the widest range of fruits and nuts available for our tropical climate. Already-naturalized exotic fruits that enjoy an important place in local culture, such as mango, sit side by side with fruits previously unknown or rare in the region, like jackfruit and black sapote. Additionally, we have taken part in the informal efforts of local farmers to begin to domesticate and selectively breed certain wild jungle fruits (pama, charichuelo, and moquete de tigre, to name a few), thereby relieving pressure on the virgin forests as a source for fruit products whose harvest sometimes implies the felling of the trees. We revel in the local diversity of palm fruits, of which we have planted over a half a dozen species.

Rather than simple orchards, these heavily-planted acres of valuable and delicious tree crops are truly “food forests,” to use the term of Bill Mollison, one of the founding fathers of Permaculture. The trees are planted in a multi-strata form that imitates the layout of a natural forest: tall, slow-growing hardwood trees grow alongside small and medium size trees, palms, and even vines, shrubs, and herbs. Soil-enriching leguminous trees, some bearing fruit themselves, are distributed throughout the food forest, as are food-producing bean varieties that double as nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Soil health is a major priority, and local materials such as sawdust, leaf litter, and brazil nut husks are used for mulches, ground covers, and on-site composting. The trees themselves also encourage soil health, blanketing the easily eroded tropical soil in mixed shade from above and holding the ground in place from the roots below. In short, our food forests are treasuries of extreme biodiversity, ever-improving soil quality, and the kind of harmonious inter-relationships among species that one would expect to find in a wild forest.

  • Living Seed Bank

Seed banks are genetic stockpiles that safeguard the future of important plants by preserving and reproducing their seeds. Camino Verde’s Living Seed Bank goes a step further, by planting and protecting living trees that provide seeds each season for future reforestation efforts.
The ongoing Living Seed Bank project (LSB) has the following goals:

To act as a botanical garden representing the broadest variety possible of useful trees _ for medicine, fruit, timber, crafts materials, ornamental horticulture, and more. To date the LSB includes over 250 tree species.

To emphasize key trees including over-exploited and endangered Amazonian species, especially those that have not been reforested in the past. These Heritage Trees are planted in large numbers (50 or more) to ensure a diverse genetic stock from which to draw seeds, as wild populations dwindle and suffer genetic erosion.

To study the growth and characteristics of these species in a cultivated setting, identifying trees that show promise for widespread or commercial reforestation. This includes the domestication of wild fruits.

To research and develop multi-species agroforestry systems that provide local subsistence farmers with an economically viable tree-based alternative to slash-and-burn.

The Living Seed Bank at a glance:

over 250 total tree species planted to date (as of 6/2011)
over half of the top thirty timber species from the region represented
7 hectares (17.5 acres) of trees planted to date (as of 6/2011)
nearly 70 different fruit tree species
over 40 ornamental flowering species
For more information on the trees we plant and protect, please visit our Trees Database.

  • Supporting Indigenous Wisdom

In keeping with our mission to protect indigenous rights, autonomy, and wisdom, Camino Verde carries out programs intended to preserve and document the vast knowledge and experience of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon and wisdom, Camino Verde carries out programs intended to preserve and document the vast knowledge and experience of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon and beyond. With a special emphasis on medicinal trees and other useful plants, we seek to actively intervene in the ecological and cultural erosion that jointly threatens rainforest tribes and nations.

In 2009 our work in Supporting Indigenous Wisdom focuses on the creation of infrastructure at the home and health clinic of one of the Tambopata region’s most revered healers. The construction of additional lodging space for patients and visitors helps support the millenia-old tradition practiced by the herbal healers of the Amazon, in this case in the native community of Infierno.

Springing from this project, 2010 will find us documenting and publishing some of the plant lore and wisdom of the healers of the Tambopata region, culminating in a book series on medicinal plants in Spanish and English. Please check back here for future developments

  • Camino Verde Ethno-Botanicals: Commerce for Conservation

Our brand of direct source non-timber forest products is about adding value to the living forest. We offer to world markets select premium forest-sourced products, fostering the sustainable growth of regenerative community enterprises. We apply much needed sustainable harvest standards for farm-sourced and wildcrafter products of the Peruvian Amazon.

Healthy forests have many intrinsic values such as maintaining high biodiversity, keeping water clean and stabilizing the climate. Unfortunately forests are often cleared or degraded for short-term economic gain. We wish to create positive alternatives to deforestation for forest peoples by developing markets for innovative value-added products made from sustainably harvested plants that stimulate their creativity, culture, and ecological knowledge.

The goal of our brand of direct source non-timber forest products is to add value to the living forest by creating regenerative enterprises. We offer these premium products to the world market including a wide range of innovative handicrafts and a growing number of novel essential oils. We design high standards for sustainably harvesting the plant materials that go into these products whether they are sourced from our own sites or the farm fields and forests of our partners. As a member of the Fair Trade Federation, we are committed to fairly paying the artisans and others who make the products we sell and reinvest a part of our revenues to support health, education and conservation needs in our partner communities. Our sales channnels include wholesale relationships with companies, online sales through our Amazon Forest Store (www.amazonforeststore.com) and other retail sales through special events and partnerships.