jueves, 18 de octubre de 2007

Another Colonization

When crossing the Andes of Ecuador[1], from the North border with Colombia, in the Carchi, to the province of Loja in the south, border with Peru, you can see the results of a shocking, and almost unnoticed colonization.

On the mountainsides for as far as the eye can see, the only trees that are visible are long stretches of eucalyptuses and pines; the native, once-magnificent, diversity has turned into monotony; huge areas of Andean cloud forests have been turned into collections of exotic foreign plants.

In Carchi, the cemetery in Tulcán - a national patrimony, all we see are cypresses native to North America; there is not a single native plant. The whole route is a endless display of eucalyptuses that only changes in the Chota valley. From trees, we pass into to sugar cane: another monoculture.

Heading south, in the province of Imbabura, the eucalyptuses have taken over everything. Imbakucha - lake San Pablo, is surrounded by an infinity of eucalyptuses; in areas such as the Topo community, 90% of the trees are eucalyptuses. In the paramos of this river basin we find pine reforestation, done in the name of carbon capture without thinking about the damaging effects on this high Andean ecosystem[2].

Continuing towards the south; the route until Quito is covered with thousands and thousands of eucalyptuses and pines. The eroded soils of these areas makes us think about the relationship between exotic plantations and the disappearance of the natural layer of top soil rich in vegetable matter. In Quito, sites like: Carolina park, the Metropolitan park and the slopes of Pichincha volcano, are an agglomeration of eucalyptuses and acacias; pines, cypresses and poplars, ashes and African grasses dominate, without leaving space for native plants.

We leave Quito and we head towards the south between interminable eucalyptus; all this interAndean zone is saturated with eucalyptuses; and we arrive at the Cotopaxi Natural Park. The slopes of this great mountain are full of pines that have displaced all the original flora and fauna .There are thousands of hectares[3] where pine predominates and where the Andean species are absent.

The cities that we come to in the south: Ambato, Latacunga, Riobamba, Mercuries, River basin, Loja; are overwhelmingly full of European, North American, Australian species; pines, eucalyptuses, palms of the Canary Islands, figs and ashes of Chinese, poplars, maples and cypresses of the north, own the green spaces: Fences, gardens, urban parks, national park, commercial plantations, trees in our streets, etc. NOTHING IS NATIVE and everything is artificial.

The diverse forms of native forests with their rich and varied colours and textures are absent; there are no forests, only plantations of exotic species; the forest culture is deforested and colonized. 95% of the Andean native forests of Ecuador have disappeared.[4]

And with the native trees, cultural significance has also disappeared; the myths; the traditions about native trees, visions of the living Andean forest, that accompanies us as a place of shelter, diversity, and animal life; all this has been supplanted by European visions where the forest is the dark refuge of dangerous beings: the wolves watch with his jaws dripping with blood, the witches prepare their concoctions and the furious monsters lie in wait.

The forest is no longer our inspiration; now it is our fear - it is no longer forest, it is plantation[5]. Now it is had been ‘culturised’[6]

This colonization leaves our soul like an uncultivated land, without water for the forest, without forest in which to embrace trees, trees where animals live, without animals where to see us alive, without life where to be.

And if we descend towards the Pacific coast, we notice a frightening deforestation on the Andean slopes; the cattle ranch with exotic grass replaces the forest and arrives, destroying everything and eroding everything.

Now on the coastal plain, the plantations of African palms, teaks, bananas (and shrimps) have erased natural habitats without consideration for our essence: we were once countries of forests and biodiversity.

Our Andean countries are enthusiastically promoted as countries of great diversity; but now we don’t have the opportunity to experience this diversity except in very specific sites. The loss is incommensurable.

The people do not remember the invasion; their thought are colonized too, reforested and the future is wiped out with the forests that no longer exist

According to Steere[7], “Ecuador is the country with the highest number of plant species by area in South America”. But, this statistic is now more than 50 years old; will it continue to be true? Or is this biodiversity now only to be found in some areas of the Amazon?

From the point of view of the work supported by Progressio, it is evident that we must work in bringing back green spaces to this country; and not only in reference to trees; with the horticultural species here we find a similar situation: we support small scale family farming and the seeds that are used come from agro-industrial companies of the North: SEEDS DO NOT EXIST IN the COUNTRY.

It is a situation of loss of self-esteem and rights over the future of our own land, our cultures and our families.

We must demonstrate this so that people take notice of the colonization which is happening to us without us realizing or doing anything about it.

[1] This is extensice across the latin american countries
[2] The PHASE – PROFAFOR aims to educate communities about their land rights.

[3] 50% of the 33,393 hectares of the Cotopaxi National Park % are covered with pines. (National parks and reserves of Ecuador Guide . Project INEFAN - GEF. Quito1998).

[4] CAMAREN, System of qualification for the handling of renewable natural resources. CAMAREN, Quito, Ecuador, 2000 Several documents.
[5] Foresty plantations are a symbol of modernity which objectifies nature and puts it below man made designs, see Arturo Escobar, The Construction and Deconstruction of Development Ed Norma. Bogotá. 1996 capítulo V.
[6] This expression comes from agricultural sciences which differentiate the cultured, uncultivated, forests, from the cultured (that which is cultivated).
[7] Steere W. 1950. The phytogeography of Ecuador; In: Studies in Ecuador geography. E. Fendon (ed) Univ. S. Calif. Monogr. Sch.Am. Head of cattle, 15:1:86. Mentioned in Biodiversity, bioprospección and bio-security.To, Barea (compiler) Abya Yala Ed.Quito, Ecuador. P22.

lunes, 2 de julio de 2007

there are no more natural seeds

if you want to plant any kind of vegetable, you don`t have very many options because there are no more seeds.

the Andeans countries have lost the sovereignity.

Now the fundamental tool for the right to decide what do you like to plant or what do you like to eat is in the hands of big agro corporations.

it is impossible to find natural seeds in these countries, just seeds that come from industry.

maybe you don´t use agrochemical products in your little farm and you buy vegetables in organic markets. but the origin of live is not natural any more.

seeds are trapped far away from nature - mother earth.

more than 95% of seeds come from industry.

solidarity or common cause is no longer the power of sharing seeds between peasants.

Now, the market is the power.

it is so sad to find out that life is just buying and selling.

we need to improve our efforts to work with peasants and indigenous people to recover our seeds. because their seeds are our seeds - and they are the seeds of everyone on the earth.

natural seeds are a natural right, a human right. and they must be in the hands of the people that plant, and take care of the seeds.

not in the hands of the market.

what are you eating today?