The Green Heart Project

1. Project Background

The Green Heart Project is carried out in the heart of the Sucumbios province of the northeastern Amazon of Ecuador, where published studies suggest that the exceptionally high population of human cancer rates in the region correlate directly to environmental pollution from perilous petroleum extraction methods. From 1990 to 2015, Ecuador lost 475,000 hectares of primary Amazon rainforests, an average of 83 football pitches cleared every day for resource extraction and unsustainable agriculture practices. As one of the most biodynamic tropical rainforests, the Amazon rainforest is considered the largest freshwater source on earth. Thus, its importance to the planetary ecosystem is immeasurable. Since 2006, Amisacho Restauración, our local partner, has been dedicated to conservation and restoration of a jungle area isolated from the encroaching cities and deforestation practices by developing an environmental research station focused on preservation, investigation, and education.

2. Main Objectives

In response to the complex issues faced in the Succumbios region of Ecuador, the actions aim to distribute ecosystem restoration curricula, develop self-care products and immuno-stimulating medicines, and revive spaces to collectively cultivate the connection between healthy soils. The Green Heart Project directly supports Amisacho and collaboratively provides educational and capacity building opportunities for the aspired women, farmers, and indigenous people of the oil-boom province of Sucumbios where access to environmentally conscious resources and guidance is scarce to non-existent. A main value of the Green Heart Project is to collaborate with local communities to alleviate one of the world’s largest oil disasters which continues to seep toxic substances into the environment and into the bodies of the people in the region. Through community dialogue the project responds to needs of small farmers and numerous indigenous groups that face risks due to petroleum contamination exposure such as cancer, birth defects, and miscarriages

3. Target Group

The Green Heart Project targets two beneficiary groups:
First, the women of the Sucumbios region, who aspire to change the province through their individual and collective actions on the family and institutional level. Growing up in a violent misogynist environment and economic inequality, this network of women exercises their human rights through projects in the areas of education, economy, sexual and reproductive health, political and social rights and thereby strives for equality as well as economic and political justice for all.

Second, the small local farmers and indigenous people from more than 130 communities that have been significantly affected by the destruction of their environment as a result of resource extraction interventions, thereby threatening their livelihoods. These communities have been living amidst petroleum contaminated waters and soils, for over 50 years. The local populations have little knowledge and access to alternative methods for soil regeneration and sustainable agriculture, resulting in farmers dedicating their lives to monoculture, cattle ranching, and temporary petrol contracts.

4. Project’s Major Components

The Green Heart Project’s holistic approach includes the following three major components and sub-activities:

1. Restoring Ecosystems:

1.1. Conservation and Reforestation

  • Reforestation of 10 hectares of Amazon jungle with over 55 native lumber trees, 50 fruit trees, and a growing number of native bees, birds, and mammals
  • Research and training laboratory for sustainable food, medicines and natural products and, soil regeneration
  • Educational tours and biological corridors

1.2. Development and Distribution of Ecosystem Restoration Curricula

  • Hands-on training for decontamination and restoration of ancestral lands
  • Developing and translating existing resources into Spanish on Soil Decontamination and Restoration in Amazonian Rainforests

2. Restoring Health:

2.1. Development of self-care products and medicines, while providing how-to workshops for cultivation, processing, and product elaboration

  • Research, implementation, and teaching fungal cultivation for nutrition, medicine, and soil regeneration in the Amazon climate
  • Amazonian essential oil extraction for medicinal product development- providing access to organic and immuno-stimulating products to a severely contaminated region with high cancer rates
  • Capacity building sessions on homemade medicines for body cleansing and immune support, as well as natural and organic self-care products

3. Restoring Community

3.1. Raising collective community ecological consciousness

3.2. Connecting international soil experts, environmental activists, and alternative therapists from the requests of local Indigenous and farmers for impactful capacity building sessions