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Conservation Through Economic Development

In 2016, Celine Motard, the owner of Aroma Maderosa, approached CONAPAC with the idea of purchasing lemongrass (Cymbopogon) from one of our partner communities. She was interested in distilling its essential oil and wanted to obtain a crop from reliable rural people who are concerned about forest conservation. Moreover, she offered a fair price and committed to purchasing a large quantity.

The initiation of the project required experimentation and seed funding, so the CONAPAC team got together to brainstorm the required steps to implementation while Cynthia sent out inquiries for donor interest. A brief list of materials and costs soon were identified and Adopt-a-Village International stepped up to the plate with a donation. Within a few months, three communities agreed to join the pilot project.

Each of the communities assumed that lemongrass would grow easily because it is widespread in the region. They each planted nicely organized rows of the grasses and let them grow tall and bushy. After several months, however, two of the communities began to notice leaves drying at the base of each plant and at the tips. Only one community was able to maintain its plants as lush, healthy, and vibrant green. The conditions were different for the successful plot. It had full sun and well-drained sandy soil. We can only speculate before our soil test results are returned to us, but it seems that the combination of clay, partial sun, and monoculture prevented the lemongrass from growing to its full potential. Nonetheless, the weak plants in the other plots can be dug up, the leaves trimmed, and the roots replanted in a more ideal location.
As indicated by our Facebook post on February 10th, the lemongrass planting that was successful provided an abundant harvest, and this is only the first of five deliveries for the year. Aroma Maderosa generously accepted three times the amount they had requested for this first harvest. Our team had arrived at the community early on the morning of the harvest. We had expected to indicate the weight limit before they began cutting. But this community was so organized that they had already harvested over 1600 pounds between 6:00 and 7:00 AM. And this was a only one quarter of their total crop.

Adopt-a-Village International played a crucial role in providing transportation supplies, fuel, and other critical items. They made it possible for us to learn how to set communities up for a successful project. From growing condition requirements to logistical processes, we now understand what is needed for a community to begin from scratch, deliver a harvest, and walk home with a profit. The more profit they obtain, the less need they will have to turn to the precious rainforest for income. Equally important, we now understand how to set up these agricultural projects with a single visit. Once we identify a community and get them started, the communication will thereafter remain between the community members and Aroma Maderosa.

Call For Help

Adopt-A-School is CONAPAC’s centerpiece program. As many of you know, this program delivers school supplies to over 3500 students and teachers to the schools in our 54 partner communities along the Amazon and Napo rivers. These supplies are critical items like books, pens, paper, notebooks, art materials, and kindergarten resources that help to make classrooms come to life. We host annual teacher workshops to provide ideas that enhance lesson plans, using environmental science and conservation as themes, and workshops for community authorities that equip leaders to bring the maximum amount of services to their people.

The delivery of materials depends on you, our supporters. Dozens of volunteers join us annually to make visits to the communities along the rivers, many of whom return year after year. If you would like to join us for the 2017 Adopt-A-School deliveries expedition, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Claire Lannoye-Hall, at the Detroit Zoo.

For those who can't join us in person, we ask that you support us financially. We rely on you to make it possible for us to purchase over $30,000 in school supplies and provide our other important programs. A donation of $425 makes a big impact and goes a long way in Peru, so your generosity will benefit many lives.
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Wilderness First Aid Training Comes to the Amazon

This month we were able to provide a wilderness first aid class to XX communities. Representatives of the communities gathered for two days to learn critical life-saving skills at the library and at ExploreNapo Lodge. Marjorie Maize was the primary teacher. She has 12 years experience as an EMT and currently teaches the 10-day wilderness first aid course offered by NOLS, a global wilderness school based in Lander, WY. Marjorie was accompanied by her good friend Deborah Smucker, owner of EcoTeach, who has sent many volunteers to CONAPAC’s service projects, and Jake Highleyman, who helped translate for Marjorie.

The classes began with groups of attendees identifying subjects on which they wanted to focus. This led the class to touch upon important matters such as splints for broken bones, laceration care, choking recovery, burn treatment, treating snake bites, and even managing emergency childbirth. The classes were a mix of lecture, group practice applying bandages and splints, and dispelling myths. Sadly, there has been a tradition of applying used motor oil to cuts in order to suffocate bacteria. Perhaps there was more to the belief, but Marjorie strongly encouraged attendees to replace this with sterile wound treatment. Apart from this preference, everyone present enjoyed acquiring new skills.

At the end of the class the community members expressed appreciation for the materials presented, particularly because such classes are unheard of in their area. We at CONAPAC appreciate everyone’s time, enthusiasm, and skill. Before leaving, Marjorie also gifted first aid supplies to each community present, and later to the Yanamono Clinic.

Marjorie is a fantastic, passionate teacher who did a great job of getting everyone to learn while keeping them laughing. We thank her for coming down to Peru, for donating supplies to the communities and clinic, and we thank Deborah for connecting CONAPAC with Marjorie and Jake for tirelessly translating.

Recap Of 2016 Evaluations From
Volunteer Coordinator Claire Lannoye-Hall


When the boat beached for the third time on a sand bar, we knew we were in for a long day. Late autumn means low water in the Peruvian Amazon, requiring more walking than boating to get around. I was in the rainforest with a Detroit Zoological Society colleague, representatives from our Peruvian partner, the Civil Association for Conservation of the Peruvian Amazon Environment (CONAPAC), and volunteer educators from the nearby city of Iquitos. We were conducting our annual end of the school-year evaluations in the Amazon Rainforest Adopt-A-School program communities and we were in for a long, hot day.

The experienced boat drivers know when to call it quits and ours realized there was no viable path down the parched river. He dropped off us off on a muddy river bank and we gathered our supplies and trudged up the bank to a path on the jungle’s edge. Continue reading at The Detroit Zoo's blog site ...

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CONAPAC is a Peruvian non-profit organization whose mission is to promote conservation of the rainforest through education of its stewards, the people who live along the Amazon and Napo Rivers. Our centerpiece project is the Adopt-A-School program, which is strengthened by workshops and complemented by service and sustainable projects in river communities.
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