At the end of 2021, A Rocha Peru started an initiative with Pastor José Guzmán from Iglesia Casa de Oración in Pacasmayo, northern Peru, to develop a community kitchen in San Demetrio. El comedor popular Micaela Bastidas was facing the challenge of improving its modest premises. In response, A Rocha Peru installed an improved cookstove for self-sufficiency, set up an organic garden and a space for rearing small animals, and introduced environmental education activities. The collaboration proved a significant catalyst that inspired the local government and companies to get involved and complement this work by developing the building structure, improving the kitchen, and providing a water cistern. Through these combined efforts, the Micaela Bastidas community kitchen was transformed. It became a communal hub run by local women committed to preparing and serving daily nutritious meals to 28 families of 120 adults and children. This inspiring example of community work shows the multiplying impact that A Rocha Peru is having in the communities it serves.
The Iglesia Verde project moved to Lima this year and will be working in the outskirts of the Lima district. A Rocha Peru’s project is partnering with GZB and the Iglesia Betel de Lima (Betel church of Lima), a Presbyterian church led by Pastor Elmer Laura Quiñones. Grecia Valdivia is coordinating the activities as the new Project Officer. Aligned with the Creation Care Program, it aims to spread awareness and sensitize pastors, leaders, community, and church members on the importance of conservation and preservation of God’s Creation. The project will be working directly with approximately 80 beneficiaries. This includes church members, the Red de Jóvenes Presbyterians del Perú (Presbyterian Youth Network of Peru), and the Club de Madres Sarita Colonia (Sarita Colonia Mothers’ Club). The project will conduct in-person workshops on composting, home plant care, and recycling. For the youth network, the project will run a virtual course about the environmental challenges of our time, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental pollution. In addition, the course will teach the importance of ecosystem conservation and restoration and how we can work together to protect the environment and improve the quality of life in our communities.
An achievement from La Libertad Dry Forest Project this past year has been the installation of apiaries in Tronco Prieto Forest, where the honey bees forage on the flowering algarrobo trees. Bees play a crucial role in biodiversity conservation by pollinating wildflowers and help to conserve the dry forest. With a dedicated beekeeper, the project team explored the Tronco Prieto dry forest and met with Muchick Conservation Group to investigate the possibility of installing apiaries. Later in the year, the project held two sustainable training workshops for the local community on beekeeping. The new trainees will manage the apiaries installed in Tronco Prieto to produce honey. The beekeeping initiative is on track to beekeeping success, already making 12 litres of organic honey in January!
A Rocha was at the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) in Montreal from 7-19 December 2022. Maria de los Angeles La Torre Cuadros represented A Rocha Peru as part of the A Rocha delegation to the conference. Maria de los Angeles is A Rocha Peru’s Board Chair and Director of Science and Conservation, and below is her reflection on attending the UN Biodiversity Conference.
“This meeting was a space to raise awareness of the situation of biological diversity, to see that the problems are a shared responsibility, to raise awareness of them … and investigate solutions among the various actors, to negotiate common actions, and to make progress in reducing the progressive loss of biodiversity. Commitments involve the whole of society from the financial sector, and business, to governments, ngos, and civil society. Reaching agreements of financing including the extent to which rich nations support developing countries to finance biodiversity conservation. The participation of indigenous people and local communities is especially important in decision making process relating to nature and the recognition of their land rights…I believe that commitments to reduction, for example, carbon emissions, pesticide use, land use change or the destructive industry itself should not only imply financial support to developing countries but also a responsibility of those who also finance them.
I believe that a recognition of these responsibilities should be explicit and also more ambitious for their own countries. The political vision of the government of the day should not influence the agreements ….it is important not only to bring proposal but also to disseminate them in order to be visible and these four alliances that can put pressure on those who negotiate with governments. I believe that we need to listen more to those who are guardians of biodiversity, work more on raising awareness among those who finance and the various actors. If we want to bet on green infrastructure, sustainable production also implies investment in education and technology transfer for example reducing the gaps between countries in the north and south…., it was an important experience as an academic and as an actor seeking conservation to see how important it is to make visible the wellbeing done in conservation, the need for others to know about it, that you must make visible with multiple strategies what you are doing in such a way that it raises awareness of support of those who make decisions on the whole of government”.
La Libertad Dry Forest Project continues to supply improved cookstoves for families in Pacasmayo. The improved cookstoves use less fuelwood than traditional open fires and reduce the need to cut down dry forest trees. The project delivered the kits to households in July and in August ten cookstoves were installed in households from San Demetrio and Pueblo Nuevo. A local mason installed the cookstoves.
This year the project also gave guinea pigs to beneficiary households to promote micro-livestock breeding. This new initiative hopes to address food security in rural areas. Guinea pigs are not only a source of animal protein but also their manure can fertilize agriculture fields and kitchen gardens. In traditional Peruvian households, the rearing environment for small animals is usually the kitchen, where the heat source protects guinea pigs from sudden temperature changes.
La Libertad Dry Forest Project continues to raise environmental awareness in schools and churches. This year it has expanded its education talks and garden activities to three schools and churches, including Calvary Chapel. The project inspires younger generations to become environmental ambassadors, helping them to reconnect with nature and enhancing conservation knowledge. Calvary Chapel, led by Pastor Renzo Plasencia Moscoso, is located in Pacasmayo. Since April, the project has conducted over 22 workshops and activities with adults and children of the Calvary Chapel congregation. Talks have included a variety of topics such as the state of the planet and its biodiversity, responsible consumption and sustainable development of the environment, solid waste, the importance of the dry forest, and ecological gardens. In July, the church started to create its garden called the El Buen Fruto [The Good Fruit]. Environmental leaders learned practical techniques such as home irrigation, composting, and planting vegetables. They prepared the soil, levelled and cleaned the terrain, and they have begun creating an interpretation centre.
Agroforestry is an approach that combines agriculture with trees on the same piece of land. Planting trees on farms can give farmers healthier soil and higher yields – not to mention creating vital homes for wildlife. La Libertad Dry Forest Project in Pacasmayo promotes agroforestry with local farmers by helping them combine fruit trees with existing crops. This approach aims to restore degraded agricultural land and reduce soil erosion. Over time, it also helps farmers to enhance crop production and generate alternate income from the sale of the fruit. In June, fruit tree species, such as apple, orange, mango, Japanese plum, and guaba, were produced in the local nursery in San Pedro de Lloc. In July, the project gave local farmers sixty agroforestry tree seedlings to plant on their land. The project will irrigate and monitor these trees over time. In addition to these agroforestry practices, the project has been helping farmers to improve crop production in other ways. In July, the La Libertad Dry Forest project held a workshop for rice producers in Santander. Rice is an important staple crop in the area. These workshops help to increase farmers’ knowledge of how to improve rice crop production and quality.
El Cañoncillo Natural Forest Private Conservation Area has three lagoons: Gallinazo, Larga and Cañoncillo. Creeping weeds and bushes have been obscuring the view of visitors to one of the lagoons, Gallinazo. As a result, La Libertad Dry Forest project conducted a harvesting campaign of the lagoon in May this year with the Agricultural Cooperative of Tecapa (CAU) and the Cañoncillo Forest Craftswomen Association. The harvesting campaign was to provide the artisan women’s group hand harvested natural resources to make their handicrafts but the right materials were not found. The project team acquired wool, and different local grasses such as viruli and reeds for the craftswomen to use. These resources helped motivate the craftswomen to meet and make their handicrafts. In addition, the women were trained to improve their products in Artisan workshops and explore new alternatives for their development. Selling non-timber products contributes to sustainable, forest-friendly livelihoods that help preserve the dry forest and sustain livelihoods.
Our Inglesa Verde project continues to grow in 2022 with a second mini-project implemented in the Evangelical Presbyterian and Reformed Church in Peru (IEPRP) called Fuente de Vida in Chiclayo. The Jardín de Alegría mini-project was implemented with the collaboration of Pastor Mateo Galuk, and members of the church, such as sisters; Hanna, Rosario, Soledad, Yaqueline, Cheila, and Julifer. Workshops were held to develop the mini-project with the children of the neighborhood and the church. Workshops were also conducted in Los Jardines de Santa Rosa and Los Niños de Jesús institutions educating students about the problems they have in the locality. Topics for the workshops included water care, composting, and recycling. Additionally, there were practical activities such as planting geraniums, cleaning and weeding the gardens, putting up a fence and painting a mural that motivates the community to take care of creation.
Three clean-up campaigns were also carried out with the participation of members of the church and the neighborhood community in the gardens of Santa Rosa and the surrounding area. Also, at the end of June, the Jardín de Alegría mini-project had a closing party in which diplomas were given in recognition of the participation and commitment of the children in the development of the mini-project. It was a great success!
One of our most important activities for the year is the production of native seedlings for our reforestation campaigns. This activity commenced In March this year. The team searched for native seeds of dry forest species such as Algarrobo and Hawthorn. We coordinated with the local farmers to enter their stockyards and extract the seeds from cattle manure. The manure was sifted and cleaned to extract the seeds. About 1 kg of Algarrobo seeds and 1.5 kg of Hawthorn seeds were obtained. The seeds were delivered to the local municipal nursery in San Pedro de Lloc and seedlings were planted and bagged. 235 native Algarrobo seedlings and 40 hawthorn seedlings germinated at the nursery. This seedling production was used in our first reforestation campaign of the year in July where they were planted in a 3-hectare area located in La Laguna El Muerto Forest with the collaboration of Mr. Luis Castañeda. Thank you for all those involved!