We believe that the best way to preserve the rainforest is to empower its indigenous custodians. By transforming energy use in vulnerable territories, we are activating resilient technological and socio-economic alternatives to degradation and exploitation.
The ancestral territory of the Achuar, among the most biodiverse places in the world, is a vast rainforest divided by the Ecuador-Peru border. The Ecuadorian territory, about 2 million acres, is still free of oil development, mining, industrial agriculture, and timber extraction.
Traditionally the Achuar were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers who traveled by foot or canoe. The arrival of Christian missionaries in the 1940’s led to the Achuar living in settled communities and dressing in western style clothes. Increasingly they were connected to national and global economies by airplanes, radio, and later, the internet.
The advent of gas and diesel-powered canoes has created fuel pollution in the waterways and motor noise that repels the animals the Achuar rely on for food. Fuel is expensive because it must be flown in or brought by boat from far away in Peru.
The roads now arriving in Achuar territory, represent a threshold point of no return. While they create an opportunity to exchange goods, reach markets, and access education and health services, their arrival also brings irreversible changes. Roads accelerate deforestation, which releases carbon into the atmosphere and exacerbates climate change.
The Achuar stand a crossroad. Their ancestral charge is the care and protection of the forest. They understand that current models of extracting energy from the jungle destroy much while yielding little. And all too often they are forced from their communities. Change has been their reality in recent generations, and it only promises to accelerate. But what kind of change will it be? Can it be accomplished without cultural degradation?
We are creating a community owned enterprise that meets existing needs and replaces expensive, contaminating fuels. This innovative model of infrastructure for the Amazon, designed not for but with local communities, is offers a future of new possibilities and opportunities.