Today’s blog is part three in the guest blog series by Rainforest Partnership. Check out the first post here and the second post here. This entry was written by Niyanta Spelman, Executive Director of Rainforest Partnership.
Protecting the Magic of Tropical Rainforests
Celebrating Five years of Rainforest Conservation: At Rainforest Partnership, in five years we have had many accomplishments and created incredible relationships and strong bonds with individuals in the partner rainforest communities that we work in. We have celebrated many rewarding achievements working with these rainforest communities, including a new palm extraction technique that allows the trees to remain unharmed in an indigenous community of Chipaota in Peru; construction of a broom fiber production facility; infrastructure development to support basic ecotourism as an alternative to deforestation in the Colibri Cloudforest of central Peru; and working with indigenous women who had never been able to earn a living themselves, to make and sell artisan products in Sani Isla, Ecuador.
The Magic of the Forest: As wonderful as all we do is, I would be remiss if I didn’t share a little of what it is like to do this work, beyond our accomplishments and the rich relationships. Rainforests are magical. These forests beg protecting simply because of what they are, what they hold, the incredible diversity of life and the people all living in harmony. As the founder and Executive Director of Rainforest Partnership, in just over five years, I have logged a lot of miles flying, walking, in buses, rickety cars, boats, canoes and even motorbikes (I think my mother doesn’t know this). I have accidentally stepped over—not on–the most poisonous snake in Ecuador to the delight of my nine year old son who listens to my many rainforest stories; and slept on top of a canopy tree which the chief of that community describes as sleeping between heaven and Earth (think mother tree in Avatar). I’ve seen more kinds of spiders, insects, frogs, butterflies, mushrooms, orchids, moths that sometimes defy explanations, and likely include yet “undiscovered” and unnamed species. I have listened to nightly symphonies magically orchestrated with singing night birds,
frogs and insects under clear nights with stars reflecting on still, dark water as fireflies fly among the reeds, such that I have felt that maybe I had left our planet for some otherworldly place. I have slept in more interesting and different places and taken “baths” in even more interesting ways. I, a vegetarian, have eaten roasted grubs (think Pumbaa in the Lion King); and I now have bonds with more incredible human beings that are wise and know ways of the world and of living than we can ever fathom here in the cities and the western-influenced world that we live. And yet, what strikes me is how similar we are as human beings. I find that I can traverse from sleeping on someone’s floor in the middle of the jungle and having a strong bond with them as a fellow human being, and two days later, be just as comfortable in a suit meeting with a minister in a capital city. I realize that ultimately, there is no bridging necessary, that there is no gap to close, that it is about connecting at the very basic level
as human beings. We are all the same, whether we live in the middle of the forest in the Amazon or anywhere else.