November 16, 2009
The enormity of the Amazon becomes readily apparent after flying for hours over thick forests only to see on the map that we have covered but a sliver. Today we travelled by small turboprop airplane west from Rio Branco through rain clouds to an area near the Peruvian border and the foothills of the Andes mountains. From the town of Marechal Thaumaturgo, we continued several hours up river in small boats to visit with the Ashanika, a tribe of indigenous people who are developing a small scale economic model using sustainable agricultural and forest practices. By demonstrating that the forest can provide livelihoods without relying on destructive logging or land
clearing practices, the Ashanika are providing a real world
example for other forest people in the Amazon. Indeed, we spent the night at a training facility in Marechal Thaumaturgo that they created using the proceeds from their activities in partnership with several NGOs. This spare but functional facility is used to teach others about their sustainable business model.