Murilo Reis, director of the Tapiche Reserve in the northern Amazon of Peru, has a vision of peace and hope for the communities of the Tapiche River Basin. Murilo has made a new agreement with local communities to provide employment in exchange for locals not trespassing to log and poach on the reserve. The Açaí Project marks the launching of this agreement.
The initial plan is to employ 4 locals from the village of Esperanza and 4 locals from the settlement of El Torno each month on a rotating schedule so that different people have chances to earn a solid salary. The work would begin with planting and caring for açaí palm trees from seed or seedling. For the harvest, we would promote sustainable practices like climbing up the tree to gather the fruits, rather than the currently prevalent practice of cutting trees down for their fruit. This project restores some of the natural landscape of the rain forest in previously cleared areas and installs the foundation for a commercial jungle product that can be ecologically harvested, guaranteeing local jobs for future generations.
The villages of Esperanza and El Torno (26 and 9 families as of 2015) are located 70km and 45km from the borders of the Tapiche Reserve, respectively. They are the reserve’s closest neighbors, which is challenging because many residents currently earn their living from logging and poaching. Having already decimated surrounding areas, people are eager to trespass on the reserve in search of resources. The government provides them with little option for survival, so the men turn to logging and poaching and the women often go to various forms of prostitution. Local law even encourages people to cut trees from the forest without any thought for sustainability, naming it as their Peruvian right. Read more about it at Conservation.
The Açaí Project strives to show locals that there is a way to live in harmony with the jungle by involving them in eco-conscious projects, providing them a jungle-friendly income and keeping them so busy that they literally do not have the time or energy to log or poach. Besides planting, maintaining and harvesting açaí in The Açaí Project, we also place locals in ongoing rotating apprenticeship and training roles at the lodge, helping them to learn technical skills and gain experience working with international guests.