In 2019, going zero waste was the first step we took towards a sustainable tourism. But in 2022, we are taking our game up to the next level: offsetting our carbon footprint.
In our last post, we explained all the sustainable measures and changes we’ve applied since before the arrival of the global pandemic. We are always looking for improvement and how to minimize our impact on Mother Earth when visiting Chile’s Lake and Volcano District with our international friends.
The upcoming World Travel Adventure Summit event by ATTA will take place in the city of Lugano in Switzerland. On 3-6 October, our team member Angela will engage in networking opportunities in the marketplace. She will also hear from inspirational speakers regarding sustainable tourism as it will be the main theme of this yearly event.
As we are very conscious about the carbon footprint that this journey implies to travel from Chile to Switzerland and back, we partnered up with a great local reforestation project in order to neutralize this impact.
How it started
Shortly after starting our Zero Waste Challenge in 2019, we contacted a local partner, Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias in order to find a solution about offsetting our carbon emissions on a local basis. For many years, we have been working together with the award-winning community based project by connecting our international visitors from all over the world with the local culture. Togehter with Romá Martí, leader of this great community based tourism project in Curarrehue, we came up with the idea of a great project.
After sharing our future vision to become a carbon neutral company by supporting a local organization, Romá compromised with providing us a sustainable solution for our environmental issue. As some of his partners of the community-based tourism network already had years of experience in planting native tree species in the area, a new great project was born: Wiñolfe Anumka.
Wiñolfe Anumka: native tree reforestation project
The Wiñolfe Anumka local network was created as an alternative for the community-based tourism in Curarrehue. Indeed, after the drastic fall in the arrival of international tourists due to the coronavirus pandemic, this local project started with the construction of family greenhouses. It gave life to new native trees for their further reforestation.
Unfortunately, in Amity, the negative effect of the global pandemic forced us to temporarily retreat from this great initiative. On the other side, the Wiñolfe Anumka network realized the potential of our wish to offset our carbon footprint. As a result, the idea of regenerating the native forests pursued.
Nowadays, the Wiñolfe Anumka counts on 4 family green houses, a thousand native plants along with the first native tree cores’ reforestation. Additionally, the network also designed a new financing model and is currently processing the first production areas.
Indeed, this incredible red invites each local and/or organization, regardless of the size and business model, to take the responsibility of the generated impact by the way of living and thus mitigating the damage on the regeneration of the native forests.
The ancestral spirit of the native regeneration during a global crisis
All of the members taking part of the Wiñolfe Anumka project agree that the distinguishing attribute is the active role of the local community with a strong presence of the Mapuche culture in the process of the plant breeding and reforestation. In fact, it is an associative work, strongly connected to families and knowledge from diverse origins.
Rosa Parra Epulef lives near Curarrehue. She is one of the founders of the Wiñolfe Anumka network and a plant breeder. Before the pandemic, she received the tourists who hiked the trail crossing her land which is surrounded by an exuberant native forest. Nowadays, she combines her work in the field with her participation in the reforestation project.
Rosa is responsible of one of the tree nurseries. She proudly says: “I take care of 188 plants. I have varieties like Hualle (Nothofagus obliqua), Chilean fire tree (Embothrium coccineum), Laurel (Laurus nobilis), Monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) and Mañío (Podocarpus nubigenus).”
But more importantly, her work has a true ancestral meaning. Indeed, she explains that there’s no such thing as a difference between her and her territory. She expresses: “I was born in the countryside, my mom gave birth to her children here in this house surrounded by the native forest which still exists. I feel great satisfaction living here, which makes me keep on caring about this territory. Because I also have kids on my own, and grandchildren and I have to pass on this important value in order for them to learn to take care of it.”
The different tasks in the greenhouse are seasonal, and nature sets the pace. Rosa describes: “I have to maintain the tree nursery, like bagging up and making sure that the plants don’t dry, and water them. Moreover, I have to prepare the land and here we do have natural fertilizer.”
A climate action for a global issue
Moreover, it’s worth saying that two forest engineers lead the project, Martín Erdmann is one of them. He understands that reforestation responds to the emergency of the global climate crisis and our current way of life.
He explains: “Despite the great extensions of the native forests in the region, we mainly find them in the mountain range. But there also exist valleys, river banks and livestock-based farming which also need reforestation. So, planting native trees seeks to rebalance the ecosystems where we produce the necessary services of life.”
In addition, he details that they nurse the plants for 2 years before taking them to the definitive planting place. When reforesting, the core technique consists in planting 20 trees group wide. One tree occupies 1 square feet per space. Thus, this method imitates the natural reforestation or a forest, which differs from the traditional planting method in row.
More to come in the upcoming future
During 2022, the project is getting ready for the second season of native reforestation. During the first operational year, the process included collecting and conserving the native seeds. But also the work of the local families who reproduce the trees. Not without mentioning the great forest keepers. They are local women from the Mapuche community who facilitate their land. For the next 20 years, they will take care of the reforestation Curarrehue, in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District.
For 2023, the community hopes to reforest at least 23 tree centers, duplicate the planting production in greenhouses. They also wish to increase the number of people and organizations which collaborate in the project.