Deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest on the planet and faces serious threat of deforestation. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) estimates that more than a quarter of the Amazon biome will be without trees by 2030 if the current rate of deforestation continues. Deforestation can release large amounts of carbon and contributes to global climate change. Commercial agriculture and land development are major contributors to deforestation in the Amazon.
Importance of Aguaje Trees
Deforestation of Aguaje trees has been going on since the 1990s. These trees have an important ecological, social and economic role in the Amazon Rainforest. Aguaje trees store three to five times more carbon than any other tropical ecosystem in the Amazon Rainforest, making them an important resource to protect for climate change mitigation.
For various species of animals native to the Amazon, the Aguaje palm acts as a refuge and source of food. For indigenous communities, the Aguaje is a source of food, medicine and is used for cultural activities. Although the communities use Aguaje primarily for subsistence purposes, they also use it for income generation. Cutting down Aguaje trees reduces the biodiversity of the rainforest and has consequences for indigenous people, as well as the many animals and birds that rely on the Aguaje for their survival.
Sustainable Wild Harvesting of Aguaje
Because the trees can grow up to 10 storeys high, the current practice in Peru is to cut down trees to harvest fruit. This destructive practice produces a lot of fruit that is not ripe. Imaya works with Amazonian Producers and the Kokama community who are using specialized climbing equipment to safely wild-harvest ripe fruit, without cutting down trees.
Imaya's Conservation Efforts
Imaya donates 10% of its profits to Acate Amazon, a not-for-profit organization that plants aguaje trees in areas that have been deforested. Acate Amazon also works with communities to preserve indigenous knowledge of herbal medicine.