I want to take you with me strolling through the jungle with the highest biodiversity of this planet. As the first article I share answers to some frequent and some uniquely questions that reach us.. let’s go.
How did it all start?
We traveled the world by bike in 2013 because we were looking for alternatives to the life that was intended for us in Germany. In the Amazon, we immediately fell in love with the jungle. However, we have also seen the terribly rapid destruction. It had just clicked between the rainforest and us. We were looking for our place in the world and the rainforest wanted to continue to exist. So we founded GaiAma in Perú to protect the last jungle areas in the world.
How does a typical day at GaiAma look like?
Our work is very varied. There are days on which we walk the property borders, with GPS and document the water flows, the animal and plant species, the height differences and micro-climates, there are days when we have a lot of bureaucracy in terms of the plots, borders also to secure them legally, to help locals get a correct personal document over the years, so that they can make a sale, negotiate with neighbors about the correctness of the borders and also the normal madness, such as taxes, insurance for employees, change banks, because the first was a no-go, long trips into the city to buy durable food supply. Sometimes it is more social work, taking care of wild animals, attending the land owners’ association meetings, answering all the kid’s questions about English in the village, and on other days and somewhere in between there is also a lot of online work, writing, uploading, social media reports, reply to emails, maintain the website, give interviews and general accounting for GaiAma … There is so much more that keeps us busy - sharpening machetes, planting seeds, watering seedlings and what not :) What happens at which day depends on the weather ^^ We love the wide range of tasks very much, only sometimes we wish the day would have more than 24 hours xD Because what’s also important is swimming in the river, dancing to music and just chilling to stay healthy and motivated.
What is some cool plants and animals that stand out for you? (I loved that question)
It is very important to me that it does not matter at all whether you know the plants by name or not. I always like to say - I don’t know the name of this plant, but I still protect it. Better than the other way around ;D I have a hard time deciding which plants and animals to show you here because they are all so incredibly beautiful. Well..
As plants I choose jergón sacha (pronounced hergon satcha). It is the only antidote to the dangerous Jergón snake (Bothrops atrox) bite that can be found here in nature.
And the gummy bear tree (Cecropia), which grows first when a large jungle giant falls, and allows ants to live in it that protect it from other predators. It also has a gooey, sweet fruit that delights all jungle residents. An all-rounder.
And as animals, I choose the izula (bullet ant / Paraponera clavata), the largest ant in the world, with a sting that hurts as much as being shot. It has already stung me in the thumb .. was funny .. For the indigenous boys in the Amazon it means a lot to be stung by two gloves full of these ants, as a ritual into masculinity.
..and the macaw, because our foundling and best friend Kies, the blue macaw, was the dearest soul on this planet. Unfortunately he was stolen from the animal sanctuary before he could fly properly again, his wings were trimmed again and he was very poorly nourished and treated for 2 weeks. When he was brought back with regret, he died .. it looked like it was from a broken heart, but it was certainly also the inadequate diet .. it was terrible. Kies will fly in our hearts forever. There is a lack of education regarding respect for animal life, the people here have just survived colonial slavery and are still suffering from severe trauma themselves. There is a lot of healing that has to take place and it will need time and compassion amongst humans and towards animals ultimately.
How to deal with climate crisis critics?
I have to admit that I actually do not believe that there is people who truly deny that deforestation and other destructive methods cause a harmful impact and changes in local and summed up global climate. What they are pissed about is paying taxes for that and therefore they come up with conspiracies and stories about being surpressed and lied to. But for the sake of the question, let’s pretend there is someone who is AS blind and doubts, that there is a link between humans and (additional to usual planetary changes) climate change..
I hope humanity starts to listen to what scientists say, and it will be seen as a general consensus and also teached in schools. Alternatively, ultra-fast drones could fly the doubters here briefly and I walk with them two steps out of the cool, gently shaded forest onto a cut down area for large-scale agriculture, on which the soles of his feet and his face are burning in no time. I drive with the skeptic from the forest-covered valley, where springs are bubbling and food grows abundantly, into the valley right next to it, which has been forest cleared by unfortunate landowner situations, where there is no single water stream anymore, where the fields have to be heavily fertilized and where no more rain falls .. “weird,” … I take him to the mountains, where the houses are torn away from the flood with animals and people because the trees were cut up there and the rain drove the bare earth to the villages as mud erosion …
What can I say? All over the world, this is an educational project for probably even centuries. A good start is to be aware of what forest and trees mean for the climate. And then put it into the textbooks. I wish travelling would be more ecological. Because many who travel to third world countries have aha moments ;)
Can you give more examples on how human consumption directly impacs the third world?
Where should I start?
Gold, oil, gas? Meaning jewelry, fuel etc. I think that many people are not even aware that South America has a lot of raw materials like this and to extract them the Amazon has to go.. Here there are gold veins, zinc, uranium, lithium, everything the mining heart desires, everything that a big city uses that relies on raw materials that cannot be found directly around that city.
Many people already know that trees for cattle that turns into sausage, along with their additional feeding area for these animals, require an infinite number of hectares of rainforest. So today I’m going to talk about gold instead. (CONTENT WARNING: abuse, sexual contexts, crime)
We once lived very close to the gold mines. From the airplane, they look like huge flesh wounds in the forest because tropical clay is often red and orange. In these muddy pools on the river are machines that dig up the earth and then liquid mercury is added to extract the gold. The workers reach in there with their bare hands, the rest flows into the big river, the fish, the land, the people - all mercury poisoned. Because this is cruel and illegal work guarded by the mafia and corupt police and military, there is human- and slave trafic and around all this criminal swamp, casinos and prostitution. The young men poison themselves in the mines, and then, drunk as shit, poison the hearts and bodies of the young Amazon girls. It couldn’t be more sad. In this sense, yes, I am happy if everyone thinks twice about the importance of a jewelry necklace or EVEN taking the bike instead of the car… and everyone can only answer for themselves what they really “need” to be happy and to live here in this world. Nobody has to go into the cave as a hermit but we should learn to stop our greed and addiction to consuming.
How can anyone start to take action for the planet besides making conscious and sustainable decisions about local, seasonal and fair food & goods?
It definitely helps to take responsibility. And not always wanting to blame others. No matter whether it shows in resignation as one extreme, or angrily sharing conspiracy theories as another extreme of this felt loss of control. Just finally change something, finally do something and rigorously stop pointing with your finger!
I strongly recommend looking around for positively active YouTubers, Instagramers and bloggers. This goes from weaving fabrics, collecting garbage challenges, to inspiring “minimalist living” tips and tricks from people on social media platforms. Reading along silently already helps. Subscribe to the relevant hashtags of your personal green interests and browse, explore new ideas and topics and learn how to live differently WITH FUN and joie de vivre.
How can folks help GaiAma?
You can support GaiAma directly by participating in our ongoing crowdfunding to collect money for the next threatened rainforest area that needs to be bought.
You can do that here: Donate
There are also many great options to help indirectly.
It starts by telling 2 more people about us and inspiring them to donate and telling them to do the same thing.
It helps to give us follows on social media with likes and nice comments, for the algorithms.
This is possible here:
over there it helps us a lot when content is shared, in stories or in groups or friends are invited to like our pages.
Automatic monthly small donations are also very brilliant. If you feel like it, you can also print out flyers with photos and information from us and display or distribute them in suitable locations (to do this, send us an email using the contact form, and we will then send digital flyers and information 🙏 contact form)
An online friend, for example, puts information from us in the waiting room of her doctors office.
… you can be creative where to put them.
We also have partner businesses that donate one to five percent of their income to GaiAma per month, giving their customers the good feeling that they have done something great with their purchase. These partners will of course also receive image material from us for advertising purposes and they report that rainforest protection can be the last drop why a customer chooses THEM.
Another great idea from a friend who is a painter - For her birthday she started a Facebook donation party for GaiAma and was givig away one of her pictures to one person of all who donated. There’s many ways to raise awareness for the rainforest and GaiAma.
We had schools make rainforest ralleys, where the parents donated.
Or private people have the whole village drive by bike to work, donating one Euro for each kilometer, as a collective fun action for the Amazon.
No limits for your creativity 🙏😊
If you have any question to us you want me to address, drop us a message at the contact form.
Thank you, friends of this planet.
Much love from the Amazon, Sascha ✌️