Protecting and safeguarding the environment is an essential pillar of Terra Ecuador’s ethical commitment.

Since 2019, Terra Ecuador has made a financial commitment to the Los Yapas Nature Reserve and the Kausana Foundation, near Puyo, to help reforest the 27-hectare park and preserve endemic plant species. 

In May 2023, the Terra Ecuador team spent 3 days scouting to learn more about the committed experiences we offer, and volunteered to humbly contribute to the conservation/preservation of our environment by spending a day and a night in the Los Yapas botanical park. Our objectives: to be on the ground, to have legitimacy, to help our local partners and to help you discover the importance of this project in the Amazon, which is so dear to us, while at the same time uniting our team in the field!

Los Yapas: a social and environmental project

Los Yapas is a botanical park, ecolodge and holistic center located in Fatima, a village in the nearby Amazon. It was created in 2006 by Victor Aguilar and Gabriela Aguilar, or Gabi, father and daughter, for the conservation of the primary Amazon rainforest, due to its worrying situation following the repeated assaults of uncontrolled logging aimed at introducing livestock, agribusiness and exogenous crops as invasive.

Almost 50% of Ecuador’s primary Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed. It’s a frightening figure, and one that makes us want to TAKE ACTION to recover the areas destroyed and preserve the existing sanctuaries.

The aim of the Los Yapas project is to restore the soil, re-establish a viable ecosystem (soil, water, symbiosis) and reintroduce the endemic flora and fauna once present in the area. Revitalize, replant and raise awareness by protecting sources of biodiversity and freshwater, while involving local communities as well as our travelers.

To carry out this mission, Los Yapas has created three main missions:

  • Revitalize and reforest through the creation of a botanical park to restore the flora and fauna once present on the territory;
  • To train and pass on good permaculture practices and the conservation of endangered ecosystems;
  • Healing and living well through the creation of a holistic center to offer alternative therapies and care with the vision of gaining environmental awareness.

For the founders, human healing in the face of the consumer society that surrounds us is necessary and goes hand in hand with the preservation of Nature (Pachamama).

Reforestation: an essential condition for restoring biodiversity in the Amazon

Reforestation is taking root at Los Yapas thanks to the agroforestry method, or more generally permaculture. This agricultural system aims to reproduce a harmonious, productive and sustainable environment in a place where there was once rich biodiversity.

In 2006, the Aguilar family set up their reforestation site in an area of 27 hectares previously dedicated to cattle farming. The consequences: monoculture, invasive weeds and grasses, and above all, soils devastated to the point of no longer being able to support biodiversity. A major soil restoration project was therefore launched, as cattle farming had led to soil acidification and loss of micronutrients.

The first step in reforestation is to plant endemic, endangered Amazonian tree species, rich in micronutrients, to nourish the soil and enable other species of flora to be planted later. The triptych of magnesium, potassium and phosphorus is a prerequisite for rebalancing soil that has become acidic over the years.

By 2023, more than 12 hectares of the 25 hectares of Los Yapas had been reforested, making it a haven for wild animals and hundreds of endemic plant species. In 17 years, the difference between the agricultural fields and the biodiversity of Los Yapas today is still visible.

The Terra Ecuador team plants trees at Los Yapas

After an early-morning tour of the park to discover its flora and fauna, the team set off in rubber boots, accompanied by Gabi, to the fields to be reforested.

Once there, we immediately realize the difference with the lush green forest behind us, and what we’ll be contributing to. Gabi begins by explaining the importance of permaculture and reforestation.

We realize that the project has been hard at work for years and has taken decades to bear fruit, but it’s all for the long term.

And so we too begin to make our contribution and plant our first tree:

  1. We dig deep enough to put the sapling in the ground.
  2. We mix the soil with natural potting compost to plant the tree.
  3. Remove the sapling and place it in the hole of its future location.
  4. We cover the base of the tree with our soil and potting mix.
  5. We finish by adding natural mulch to keep the base moist.

Then we repeat each step to plant the trees that afternoon. We also contribute to the upkeep of the site by raking to prevent weeds from proliferating.

Finally, the Terra Ecuador team planted 12 trees on the afternoon of May 19, 2023, contributing to the reforestation of Los Yapas botanical park. Thanks to Terra Ecuador’s financial donation, made possible by travelers’ contribution of 17.50 USD to support socio-environmental projects, Los Yapas was able to reforest 1 hectare of its park – for this exercise.

If, like the Terra Ecuador team, you would like to come and help Gabi reforest Los Yapas for a day, and take part in a committed permaculture project, please don’t hesitate to contact us.