Camino Verde News

Deforestation in Madre de Dios makes headlines
December 31, 2009

One of Lima, Peru´s foremost newspapers, El Comercio, featured deforestation in the Madre de Dios region on the cover page last month.  The article is Spanish only.  Its title translates as "Brutal Deforestation in Madre de Dios."

Announcing Camino Verde Baltimori ACP
October 31, 2009

The Peruvian government has created several avenues for the conservation of important ecosystems, the foremost of these being national protected areas including National Parks and Reserves.  Recent laws have set into place a new format for conservation, áreas de conservación privada (ACP), or private conservation areas.  Privately owned lands are voluntarily designated as ACPs by the landowners and are recognized by Peru«s Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Agriculture.

Camino Verde is pleased to announce that the virgin rainforests of our land in the community of Baltimori will soon constitute an officially-recognized ACP, designated simply "Camino Verde Baltimori."  The conservation of this virgin forest is a proud achievement and ongoing commitment, and we are happy that our efforts will now be backed by government recognition. 

Conservation of Primary Forests
Return of the harpy eagle
October 31, 2009

The mother eagle is back!  In 2007 we were ecstatic to discover within Camino Verde's land a nest of the Americas' largest raptor: the harpy eagle (harpia harpyja).  With frequent screeches and a few incredible close sightings, we confirmed that the nest was occupied by a mother and an infant male.  Ever since the nest was first spotted, we have been the proud protectors of this exquisite species. 

After the young eagle matured through adolescence to full size, the nest was abandoned and began to fall to pieces.  Before long, only a few sticks were left in the crux of the chihuahuaco (ironwood) tree that had once housed this magnificent avian.  We were initially concerned that the departure of the eagle was due to the noise and crash of nearby chainsaw crews harvesting wood from a neighbor's parcel.  For almost two years, the remains of the nest sat as a sad reminder of how fragile the Amazon's ecosystems are.

This week our concerns were joyfully discarded when we discovered the nest rebuilt and looking robust once more.  A biologist specializing in harpy eagles assured us that the mother had returned right on schedule: harpy eagles tend to revisit the same trees to nest, but ovate only every two or three years.  We are grateful to be able to continue to witness the life cycle of one of the rainforest's fiercest predators, an animal that commonly feeds on large mammalian prey like the howler monkey and the sloth. 

With the inspiration of the eagle's presence we continue to plant chihuahuaco trees annually.  The "iron of the forest" is a true jungle hardwood-- incredibly dense and heavy, and containing so much iron that compasses malfunction in the tree's vicinity.  Dypterix odorata (the tree's scientific name) is one of but three species in which the harpy will nest.  Along with brazil nut (castaña) and giant kapok (lupuna), chihuahuaco forms a crucial part of the canopy's emergent (highest) layer, often towering thirty feet above the next tallest trees-- an excellent perch for a winged hunter.  Unfortunately, chihuahuaco is also the source of beautiful and durable timber and excellent charcoal.  Felling of ironwoods has accelerated rapidly in the last five years, threatening vital habitat for Amazonian eagles.  Camino Verde's wild forests are home to many of these exceptional forest giants, with more being planted each year in protection of the genetic diversity of the species. 

See the chihuahuaco entry in our Trees Database.

Conservation of Primary Forests
Return of the harpy eagle
October 31, 2009

The mother eagle is back!  In 2007 we were ecstatic to discover within Camino Verde's land a nest of the Americas' largest raptor: the harpy eagle (harpia harpyja).  With frequent screeches and a few incredible close sightings, we confirmed that the nest was occupied by a mother and an infant male.  Ever since the nest was first spotted, we have been the proud protectors of this exquisite species. 

After the young eagle matured through adolescence to full size, the nest was abandoned and began to fall to pieces.  Before long, only a few sticks were left in the crux of the chihuahuaco (ironwood) tree that had once housed this magnificent avian.  We were initially concerned that the departure of the eagle was due to the noise and crash of nearby chainsaw crews harvesting wood from a neighbor's parcel.  For almost two years, the remains of the nest sat as a sad reminder of how fragile the Amazon's ecosystems are.

This week our concerns were joyfully discarded when we discovered the nest rebuilt and looking robust once more.  A biologist specializing in harpy eagles assured us that the mother had returned right on schedule: harpy eagles tend to revisit the same trees to nest, but ovate only every two or three years.  We are grateful to be able to continue to witness the life cycle of one of the rainforest's fiercest predators, an animal that commonly feeds on large mammalian prey like the howler monkey and the sloth. 

With the inspiration of the eagle's presence we continue to plant chihuahuaco trees annually.  The "iron of the forest" is a true jungle hardwood-- incredibly dense and heavy, and containing so much iron that compasses malfunction in the tree's vicinity.  Dypterix odorata (the tree's scientific name) is one of but three species in which the harpy will nest.  Along with brazil nut (castaña) and giant kapok (lupuna), chihuahuaco forms a crucial part of the canopy's emergent (highest) layer, often towering thirty feet above the next tallest trees-- an excellent perch for a winged hunter.  Unfortunately, chihuahuaco is also the source of beautiful and durable timber and excellent charcoal.  Felling of ironwoods has accelerated rapidly in the last five years, threatening vital habitat for Amazonian eagles.  Camino Verde's wild forests are home to many of these exceptional forest giants, with more being planted each year in protection of the genetic diversity of the species. 

See the chihuahuaco entry in our Trees Database.

Conservation of Primary Forests
National Public Radio features Madre de Dios
September 30, 2009

The Peruvian department of Madre de Dios, home to Camino Verde's reforestation efforts, is often considered the Earth's last remaining bastion of tropical rainforest.  Indeed, there is no other single expanse of relatively untouched tropical forest anywhere on Earth to match the region's size and biodiversity.  In truth, the pristine preservation of Madre de Dios has had as much to do with the region's historic isolation as it does the intentional effort to create reserves and national parks, though these protected areas (Manu National Park, Tambopata National Reserve, Bahuaaja-Sonene National Park) are indeed significant.

Now, in the beginning of the twenty-first century, the isolation that has kept the forests of Madre de Dios wild-- but has also kept stunted the region's economy-- is becoming a thing of the past.  Funded primarily by Brazil, the Inter-Oceanic highway that will cross the Amazon and link Brazilian commerce to Peru's Pacific ports is now a reality.  Paving of the road is well underway, with the extensive Brazilian route completed and the Peruvian side being quickly brought up to speed.  Though both governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting the environment, little has been done to prepare to buffer the road's imminent ecological consequences. 

The forests of Madre de Dios have long enjoyed a relatively harmonious existence, sustainably providing for the people of one of the Amazonian regions with the lowest population densities (around 100,000 people in an area the size of Austria or South Carolina).  The Inter-Oceanic highway also threatens to destroy this delicate balance between people and ecosystem.  An unprecedented population boom in the area, mostly highland Andean immigrants coming down into the forest to harvest gold dust from the riverbanks, has catapulted the department into an ongoing period of runaway growth.  More people means more farms, and more farms means less forest.  More than ever before, the last great tropical forests on our planet stand directly in harm's way.

It is this very situation which has now attracted the attention of National Public Radio.  To listen to reports on the Inter-Oceanic highway and goldmining in Madre de Dios, follow the links below:

NPR Multimedia Site for this story.

14 September- The Amazon Road: Paving paradise for progress?

15 September- Interoceanic highway leads to Peru´s gold mines

16 September- In Brazil, nut-growing region faces threat