Bamboo Reforestation in July 2020. This is the 4th area within the MachuPichu zone we are reforesting with bamboo. Below is a bird-view drone image. We are reforesting zone by zone. It takes some time. Priority are the critical zones first then the rest. (1) Bordering zones – pink circles. (2) Light blue, bottom right (3.) Yellow, bottom left (4) Dark blue, top.
Location: “MachuPichu” zone near the main bamboo house at about 900 meters over the sea level. About 50 meters higher that the bamboo house and about 500 meters away.
Highlighted within the photo is the are which has been cleaned of the giant grass just a few days before. The white dots are planted bamboo seedlings.
The yellow zone is Guadua angustifolia kunth also known as “cana brava” planted in a line about 1.5 years ago. The yellow circles on the top of the image are Dendrocalamus asper also known as “giant bamboo” which has been planted on the top terrace. What seems flat is actually a very steep mountain (100 meters altitude difference).
What you see is the MachuPichu zone of 2 hectares in size which has been terraced back in 2008. Initially this zone was 50% cacao CCN-51 monocrop and 50% elephant grass for pasture of cows for cattle ranching.
“Coleccion Castro Naranjal (CCN-51) was created in the 1970s by Homer U. Castro in Ecuador. This variety did not become widely planted in Ecuador until the 1997-98 El Niño event which wiped out a great deal of Nacional crop, and the losses suffered by Nacional growers during this period prompted many to switch to CCN-51”.
CCN-51 Cacao is a cultivar famous for its extremely high yields and its poor flavor characteristics. Most CCN-51 cacao beans are used for the mass-production of products like cocoa butter and “candy bars” heavily laced with milk, sugar, and other additives. Widespread throughout Ecuador due to its high productivity.
A species of perennial tropical grass native to the African grasslands. Widespread throughout the tropics due to its high productivity. Causes soil compaction. Reduction of topsoil and soil nutrient. Cattle ranching is expanding in all amazon region and one of the main causes of deforestation of endemic tropical forest. Elephant grass pasture monoculture poses a serious threat to the fragile tropical mega bio-diverse ecosystem.
So the MachuPichu zone was a typical example of local use land since the 60s till almost today in this so unique mega bio-diverse tropical mountain rain forest region in Ecuador. So the decision was made to transform this into something truly regenerative and multi-useful.
- First the terraces where made because its extremely steep. Now we have a great access to the top of MachuPichu directly from the bamboo house.
- All terraces have been reinforced with vetiver grass as bioengineering tool to control damage by extreme tropical rainfall such as erosion landslides and overall loss of top soil. The vetiver also helps to enhance the soil microorganism due to the deep root activity
- Another implemented on site solution where road access horizontal drainage canals (50 cm width) located at the inner side of the access road. Also vertical canals (25 cm width) from top to bottom of the terrain. These vertical canals where hand dug every 25 meters from the top terrace till the bottom. They help to break down the quantity of drainage water after tropical rainfall, which is literally A lot of water in very short amount of time.
Now that access was truly improved and the terraces have been reinforced and the extreme rainfall was under control. It was time to focus on a general solution to enhance bio-diversity again and additionally find a solution for all the different surrounding neighbors which are still with pasture monoculture on CNN-51 monoculture managed with pesticides.
Long term solution: Bamboo
Having transplanted more than 1000 bamboo seedlings at Finca Yantza since 2016 the idea to work with bamboo on “MachuPichu” was not so far away. There have been more than a few learnings which differ from theory but that was to expect. It was also interesting to see how well the bamboo can adapt and grow with this red clay soil (Ultisol) compared to other fruit trees. In some parts of the red clay soil even the vetiver grass had difficulties to grow because of the high iron amount in the soil. Bamboo is amazing. Once you have all the relevant knowledge about bamboo and the uses you will be speechless.
The bamboo reforestation is a long-term transformation process which was started at Finca Yantza back in March 2016 (History). Until today over 1000 diverse bamboo seedlings have been successfully transplanted over an area of about 10 hectares.
So on this Saturdays 25th July 2020, we have managed to plant 57 bamboo plants! 44 Guadua angustifolia and 5 Dendrocalamus asper and 8 Phyllostachys.
Additionally to the bamboo reforestation we have been able to identify local shrubs and trees that attract insects and birds because of their flowers. They are growing all over the areas so the seeds have been lying in the soil for some time and now they are sprouting. And they attract more bio-diversity. The bamboo does the same thing for the birds and reptiles.