Deforestation along southern Peru’s coast is almost complete, with nearly 99% of the original vegetation having been removed.
Depressing? Yes, but as engaged ecologists, we were also encouraged that change is happening; there is cause for hope.
There are program in community-based restoration led by Ecoan (Association of Andean Ecosystems) underway in the high Andes, near Cuzco and environs, and science and conservation efforts underway at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s station at Oxapampa.
The Huarango Festival in Ica, which focuses on the numerous products that can be extracted from the tree, such as algarrobina, a sweet spread, a sweet drink, high quality honey, ink, and more has been a large success, and is now in its eleventh year. Whaley also works with schools, working to restore small patches of native vegetation inside the school compounds and promoting ecological consciousness through small nurseries and gardening projects.
Middle school students in their school’s nursery, in a town near Ica, grow native species and food crops, and have a great time doing it.