Aguaje palms (Mauritia flexuosa) have long been considered to be “the tree of life” in the Amazon rainforest. Their fruits are not only eaten and sold by humans, but they are also an important source of food for a wide range of threatened animals such as monkeys, macaws, tapir and white-lipped peccaries. These massive palm trees produce large amounts of valuable fruit high up in the palm, causing people to cut them down, killing these old, majestic, magnificent symbols of the Amazon rainforest.
Luckily, a new type of climber has been developed that is durable and makes climbing the palms an easy task. Rainforest communities in Peru are now beginning to learn how to use the climbers, which are currently in great demand. For example, working with RCF Maijuna project Director Michael Gilmore, more than 100 men, women and children from the Maijuna indigenous group have been trained in climbing (see photos), and now harvest their aguaje fruit in a sustainable way, with no harm to the palms. Using this example, RCF now embarks on a campaign to finance climbers for families living in isolated areas of the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Community Reserve (ACRCTT) where no alternative exists but to cut down the palms, killing a huge, valuable tree that has taken decades to grow.
While RCF has been planting these palms with several villages, they are slow to mature into fruit producing palms (at least 10 years), and half of the palms will turn out to be males, which don’t produce fruit. Meanwhile, the lure of fruit-bearing female palms in the forest is too great for many communities to ignore, and they continue to cut down these wild palms. These impoverished communities don’t like to cut down the palms for just a single fruit harvest, and are very anxious to receive climbing harnesses as soon as possible.
Just $75 purchases a climbing harness and the training required for a rainforest family. The harness will last up to 20 years and each climbing harness will save dozens of magnificent aguaje palm trees from destruction each and every year.
Please join us in our campaign to fund these climbing harnesses (click the donate button to the right–>). For every donation of $75 or more, we will tell you which villages your climbers will be used in. We have an urgent need to purchase the first 300 climbing harnesses before the end of February 2014, and each and every climbing harness will have a direct and immediate conservation impact.
Some of Michael’s photos from the Maijuna reserve are below: