Piassaba Palm Fiber Project
Rainforest Partnership began working with the community of Chipaota in 2008 when each party signed a formal agreement to protect the community’s rainforest and restore the piassaba palm population in this area. The project helped create a management plan for the community-owned forest and aided in the construction of a broom making facility. Currently, Rainforest Partnership is working with the community to develop and implement a community business, which will provide a steady income without overexploiting and cutting their forest resources.
About the Community
Chipaota is an indigenous community of about 1,000 people with nearly 15,000 acres of community-titled land bordering Cordillera Azul National Park in the Amazonian region of northern Peru. This region is home to the Piassaba palm, an endemic species of this region of Peru. For many years, the community of Chipaota earned its primary income by selling the fibers of the Piassaba palm in the local market, but as the population of Chipaota grew, more and more residents sought to make a living by selling the fibers. The Piassaba palm began to be overexploited and the population of this unique palm in the area began to drop sharply.
In addition to the community, Rainforest Partnership works with two partners critical to the success of the project:
- CIMA (Centro de Conservación, Investigación y Manejo de Áreas Naturales) – CIMA is a conservation organization based in Lima that works in the area around Chipaota to protect the forests and to educate the forest guards and the local communities about environmental issues. Since 2002, CIMA had been working with Chipaota to educate and raise awareness regarding natural resource management. CIMA played an important role in providing information for the creation of the management plan and continues to work with the community to inventory the piassaba palms.
- Municipality of Chazuta - In November 2008, the municipality of Chazuta agreed to work with and provide institutional support to RP and the piassaba project. It has set aside land to be included under the Chipaota management plan. The municipality looks forward to using the management plan as a model for similar projects in other communities.
Forest Management Plan
In January 2009, the local Rainforest Partnership team together with the community of Chipaota carried out an inventory to create a management plan for the piassaba palm. This study verified that the forest contained 65,000 piassaba palms and called for the use of a new extraction technique that would not require cutting down the trees, thereby allowing the piassaba palm to regenerate itself every few years. In October 2009, the management plan was approved and now the regional government of San Martin is promoting the management plan as a model for sustainable development to be replicated elsewhere.
ECOMUSA and the Broom Making Facility
In October of 2009, Rainforest Partnership helped 40 families from the community of Chipaota create ECOMUSA, a community business to harvest and market piassaba palm fibers. The local RP team provided ECOMUSA members with basic finance and business management training and in early 2010, ECOMUSA began selling sustainably harvested piassaba palm fiber in the local market. With their savings from the sale of the sustainably harvested fiber, the community was able to purchase a tract of land for a broom making workshop and, in August 2010 after a summer of hard work, the community of Chipaota completed its new broom making workshop facility. Now, the members of ECOMUSA earn more than double the income selling brooms than when they sold just the raw fiber.
Our goals for the year 2012 are to solidify a business plan for ECOMUSA and to strengthen its organizational structure. Rainforest Partnership will continue to work with ECOMUSA to further develop their business skills, improve systems for broom production, and in raising awareness of environmental issues.