Last updated on May 14th, 2015 at 09:09 pm
This post is one in a series about Vermont Woods Studios’ mission of rainforest conservation and our support of Bolivian environmentalists dedicated to reforestation and ecotourism in the Amazon. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.
The Rainforest & A Vermont Furniture Store
Where is the link? Well, in the time it takes to read this series of blogs, an area of the Amazon rainforest larger than 200 football fields will have been destroyed. Can you believe that? Much rainforest destruction is done illegally, to feed the US markets for furniture and flooring. Hmm… Vermont makes wood furniture. With our 200 year tradition of using local, sustainably harvested wood, we can provide an excellent alternative to illegal furniture imports. At Vermont Woods Studios our mission is to raise awareness about the rainforest and persuade consumers to avoid illegal wood products (made from rare tropical woods like mahogany, teak and ipe) in favor of sustainable furniture and flooring made from North American woods (like cherry, maple, oak and walnut).
Finding A Way To Help
At VWS we’ve supported rainforest conservation since Day 1. But quite honestly, donating our profits to reforestation NGOs (impressive and legitimate, as they are) operating 5000 miles away was not very satisfying. We wanted to be more closely involved. We wanted to see (and be a part of) the progress being made through our contributions.
My last post was about how my son Riley happened to end up volunteering for the legendary conservationist, Rosamaria Ruiz, of Madidi Travel in the Serere Reserve of the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest. Perfect! Kendall (my other son) and I went down to see Riley and offer to help Ms Ruiz with her efforts in reforestation and “conservation through eco tourism”.
Many Faces of Rainforest Destruction
After flying over huge expanses of the Amazon and trekking through the Serere Reserve, I realized there are many different rainforest destruction problems and approaches to solving them. Some areas have simply been clear cut, the worst possible fate. But “luckily” the Serere Reserve was ravaged by illegal loggers who were just interested in large, high value trees. For example, I did not see a single mahogany tree other than the saplings planted by Madidi Travel. Cedar was also completely wiped out. The good news is that, otherwise the Serere Reserve is still intact, extraordinarily beautiful & teaming with wildlife.
It’s an amazing place, filled with exotic birds, monkeys (we saw troops of howlers, yellow monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins and a nocturnal monkey all in one day) fish and other wildlife. Serere is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet– it’s a nature lover’s dream. Rosamaria says that wildlife is so abundant here because the animals feel safe.
Conservation Through Eco Tourism
Last week I learned there’s more to rainforest conservation than planting trees. In places where the rainforest is still standing, the goal is to protect what’s left and restore what’s been stolen. Illegal loggers are a constant threat so rigorous patrolling and enforcement are always required. That takes money. Rosamaria Ruiz is showing rainforest communities around the world how to raise that money through eco tourism. Devoted wildlife and nature lovers pay to experience the wonder of the rainforest, thus providing jobs for indigenous people to conserve and defend it.
If you love being up close and personal with nature, check out Madidi Travel and their eco tourism opportunities at the Serere Reserve. It’s the last little corner of the Garden of Eden. Get down there soon. The rainforest continues to disappear at an alarming rate. The clock is ticking.
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