Valuing and using local resources is one of the key steps to sustainability. Through this practice ‒ applicable to plants, animals, building materials and even human beings ‒ we can save a lot of money and energy, and ensure that our systems are resilient and can easily withstand necessary changes. It was in the name of this principle that we spent years looking for local permaculture enthusiasts who could take on responsibility for coordinating our permaculture project. To that end, we are now delighted to announce that from the beginning of April we officially welcomed on board Silvia del Aguila Reyna.
Silvia was born and raised in Iquitos, but her parents are native to the upper Huallaga river, a region of the Amazon whose people are known for their sophisticated agricultural practices. She spent her childhood in La Independencia, a small rural community just outside of Iquitos, helping her mother to cultivate their land. It was her mother who planted the seeds of environmental awareness and the connection between human activity and the health of the land in a young Silvia’s consciousness.
Moving to the city, she enrolled with the National University of the Amazon (UNAP) to pursue a forestry engineer career. Later, she completed her master’s degree in Aquatic Resources with a major in Aquaculture at the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos. Over the years of her professional life, Silvia has contributed to many different projects, both with NGOs and state-owned organizations. Silvia says she gained some of her most influencial experiences while working in the production and organizational arm of the Rural and Indigenous Agroforestry Coordination office, in which she became a director, as well as while collaborating with the well-respected Peruvian Amazon Research Institute on its Management and Conservation of the Biodiversity of the Nanay River Basin project.
For the two-plus years before joining Chaikuni, Silvia coordinated the Reforestation and Comprehensive Gardens project for the French-Peruvian NGO, Latitude Sur.
Although the word “permaculture” is a new one for Silvia, her understanding of the relationship between people and the Earth completely resonates with Chaikuni’s vision. In her first few months of work, Silvia dedicated herself to learning about our land and comprehensive master-plan, and contributing her ideas to how we could improve Chaikuni’s existing projects. With her academic approach, Silvia has already been an immense help in systemizing the data and incorporating proper evaluation techniques into our work.
With many years in her field of expertise, Silvia has many professional connections and she is very happy to act as a bridge between the Chaikuni Institute and other organizations of a similar focus. We also forsee that her experience working with many rural comunities will allow her to make a major contribution to the partnership with the local village, Tres Unidos.
Tres Unidos village is the closest neighbor to the land shared by the Chaikuni Institute. We have already made significant contributions in the many years of our partnership with Tres Unidos, including but not limited to:
• Implementing a water system and recycling center
• Training of 7 local farmers in sustainable agriculture practices
• Paying school teachers’ salaries
• Employing a significant amount of villagers to stimulate the local economy
Silvia is very keen to further support Tres Unidos with her experience. So far we have had a meeting with local authorities and a general meeting with neighboring farmers to identify major areas of common interest so we know where to focus our energy. We learned that the majority of people who attended have an interest in producing fish and nine of them have already established fish farms that require some conservation work. We are currently in a process of visiting those fish farms to obtain more information and advise owners on the best strategies for their development.
You will be able to read more about our work with Tres Unidos in an upcoming blog. In the meantime, Silivia is bringing her wealth of experience to our work at Chaikuni. We are blessed to have her as part of the team.