The Andes within reach
The last days of my journey have begun. Three impressions remain that I would like to tell you about: the atmosphere, the project and the dream that connects everything.
Atmosphere ... it is evening and 23 degrees Celsius. The Andes are close, almost within reach, breathtakingly beautiful and completely deforested. I am in Cochabamba, a big city at 2,500 metres above sea level. When I walk uphill, my heart pounds, because the altitude is unfamiliar. The sun is strong, half an hour without protection is guaranteed to cause sunburn. Ash-grey ramshackle buildings line up one after the other, makeshift, cars, metal, coal and unfinished houses everywhere. It pulsates, literally you seem to be watching the city grow. A closer look reveals old Spanish-style houses, flowering gardens and hidden beauties. In between, the bright colours of the Indians, worlds meeting.
Cochabamba is a big city that partially - illegally - extends into a national park, the Tunari National Park. A city that draws its water entirely from the national park. A national park that depends on the people of the city understanding how important it is for their lives. Only 1 to 3 % of the original fauna and flora are still there. It really is 5 past 12 for this national park. And yet there are still islands of forest, in some cases even primary forest. About 50 breeding pairs of the Andean condor breed in the park and vicunas have been sighted in the northwest at 4,200 m altitude.
The project - a new structure is emerging
Project - over the last two weeks we have talked a lot, developed ideas and slowly a structure has emerged. Besides starting the 2nd phase, my job here is to network, listen and seed ideas. This afternoon, we carpentered the rough structure and in the process overturned quite a lot of what we had originally thought. The distances between the project sites are simply too great, the vegetation zones too different - one project leader alone can't do it.
The project takes place at three locations at different altitudes between 2,600 and 4,200 metres: In Vinto, Sacaba and Arani. There is now a technician at each location who supports the farming families in converting to dynamic agroforestry. We are also planting apple trees, sometimes next to cacti. One of the most important innovations is that we will train the farmers directly in dynamic agroforestry. I think this is the most valuable investment, because they are the ones who will convert their plots to this new method. If some of them manage to understand this method and pass it on to interested neighbours, we would have achieved a lot.
And the dream ... I dream of dynamic agroforestry spreading worldwide.