It’s September in Peru, and the rainy season is about to befall the Amazon rainforest. Air and earth are already rife with moisture. In the town of Juanjui, on the Huayabamba River, 31-year old Alex Becerra and his 10 colleagues tend to the saplings in the nursery. The young trees are designed for the Objective Carbon Zero reforestation program that was launched in 2008 by Alter Eco, through its partner company Pur Projet, the Amazonia Viva Foundation and the Acopagro Co-op. The cooperative’s 2,000 farming households have been providing Alter Eco with 450 tons of organic cacao beans per year. With already 1 million native trees planted, and at least 1 million more in the planning, the farmers have come a long way. The United Nations supported them in a conversion program in 1994 after some 15 years of coca cultivation for the drug cartels. Two hours up the Huayabamba River south-west of Juanjui, cacao farmers like Victor Leyva are excited about investing in the diversified revenue stream provided by ecologically-managed lumber: 10 percent of trees are planted to be sustainably cut and sold. The rest will remain and provide stabilized soils and beneficial shade for the cacao trees. The restored ecosystem has tourism on the rise and has increased opportunities for local youth, anchoring culture and traditional knowledge for generations to come.
Young trees before planting
The whole group
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