PERMACULTURE FOR WILDLIFE
In the heart of South America lies an amazing place that cares for rescued wildlife. La Senda Verde animal refuge is home to over 800 animals including parrots, monkeys and jaguars that have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.
The owners Vicky and Marcelo are two amazing souls that work tirelessly to ensure they are able to care for all these animals. Their annual expenditure of over $200,000 USD is greatly due to the purchasing of food making up 40% of the cost. Since 100% of the food is sourced locally it exhausts a large percentage of income received from donations or other forms of revenue that could be utilised for animal care, enclosures or other initiatives.
After working closely with Vicky and Marcelo for many years, I wanted a way to show my appreciation for the time they have dedicated to conservation and inspiring me to create Wild Bolivian Adventures, a nascent tour company that focuses on using eco tourism to aid non profit organisations in Bolivia.
Earlier this year I was able to identify an opportunity to use my company to create a volunteer & educational program that guides and inspires La Senda Verda and surrounding communities to become a scalable and replicable model project.
I have come up with a way to create a more sustainable income using permaculture to reduce the annual expenditure allowing La Seda Verde to be able to utilise their generated income in a more constructive way.
Adopting a targeted budget of $55,000 USD will allow me to demonstrate proof of concept and prepare for scaling up and or replicating this initiative.
La Senda Verde is a non-profit wildlife sanctuary that was established in 2003 originally as a project in ecotourism, with the objective to provide permanent hospitality services to the adventure tourism industry that transits on bicycles down death road from the city of La Paz to Los Yungas. The property (located a small distance from the township of Yolosa, by the Coroico River of the North Yungas region of La Paz, Bolivia) was established in this location strategically to complement this type of industry. Approximately one year later (2004), a capuchin monkey and two parrots were rescued causing LSV to redefine their objectives and focus their efforts on caring for animals that have fallen victim to the illegal wildlife trade.
La Senda Verde Animal Refuge started its operations with a small number of animals that were voluntarily handed over to the refuge. However, over the past few years the illegal wildlife trade in Bolivia has drastically increased and as a result the animal population at LSV has more than quadrupled. Due to the fact that the sanctuary is privately owned they rely heavily on finances from ecotourism, organised student visits, volunteer programs and some donations to promote their environmental education programs and sustain the sanctuary.
In 2013 I made a decision that would change my life forever after moving to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Unbeknownst to me, I would spend the next 3 years establishing the foundations of a non- profit organisation with the purpose of protecting jaguars and educating people about the illegal wildlife trade. I gained valuable experience while working alongside the government and local animal refuges devising solutions to combat an issue that I have been extremely passionate about since I was a child.
I reluctantly decided to move back to Australia in 2016 when I had exhausted all forms of income. I realised that it was time to formulate a new strategy that would allow me to continue doing the work that I am so passionate about and in 2017 after many months of desolation I developed a concept that I believed to be the most appropriate way to achieve my goals.
Wild Bolivian Adventures is the social enterprise I created with the intention of supporting non-profit organisations in Bolivia through the use of adventure tourism, volunteer programs and plant medicine retreats. With this intention in mind I am able to create an avenue in which i can educate travellers about the importance of sustainable practises and conservation issues, while providing them with an opportunity to involve themselves in an experience that will benefit local communities throughout the country.
Wild Bolivian Adventures proposes to sponsor and manage a project that uses permaculture design to assist La Senda Verde animal refuge in becoming more self-sustainable, reducing their annual expenditure and more efficiently using labour & financial resources.
We believe the most efficient and cost-effective way to achieve this is by developing a permaculture design that allows us to work in a holistic manner and cover many different aspects of eco-friendly topics.
Permaculture is not just a set of design principles centred around whole systems simulating or directly utilising the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems, but also a change of approach that ensures our habits and practices are working in cooperation with the planet rather than merely taking from it and polluting it. It uses these principles in a number of fields such as regenerative agriculture, growing food, people care, eco buildings, community, resource conservation, renewable energy and many more eco-friendly ideas.
With this in mind we have set a list of targeted objective in which we aim to achieve.
- Create a sustainable functioning eco-friendly garden space for the refuge.
- Create an educational space to teach the principles of permaculture.
- Supplement the WBA volunteer program to generate revenue for the project.
- Construct eco buildings that run on sustainable energy for volunteers and guests.
- Make it a scalable & replicable project that can be used in other refuges.
- Reduce annual expenditure by a minimum of 10% in the first 2 years.
- Purchase land locally to regenerate forests offsetting CO2 emissions.
We have been allocated a piece of land at the animal refuge to begin the garden area. Aspects of the designed project will also overflow throughout the whole property of LSV. You can see in the above photo both the area of the animal refuge outlined in yellow and the garden area outlined in red.
Involving the local community establishes an opportunity to extend this project further. It is essential that we generate an approach that will support the community while at the same time allows us to achieve the desired outcome of offsetting our carbon footprint.
The preliminary stage of this project will involve establishing a proof of concept. It will entail designing and constructing semi-permanent & permanent structures such as storage for equipment, site manager accommodation, water catchment & to irrigation devices, propagation facilities for plants and seeds, construction of garden beds, planting of fruit trees & vegetables, renewable energy sources and compost toilets.
It is essential that the use of funds is effective in reducing expenditure at LSV. Implementing the use of a volunteer program will also assist in increasing the flow of income directly into the project. One of the principles of permaculture is to utilise all available resources so that nothing goes to waste. With this in mind we will source as many resources at the animal refuge and local area i.e. Bricks, timber, rocks, pots, clay etc. as possible. However, there will be a few items that will require purchasing. Funding will be utilised to purchase all necessary tools & equipment, shipping containers for accommodation or storage, renewable energy sources to generate power to the site and cover costs for an onsite manager & consultancy fees.
I would like to say thank you in advance to each and every person that has taken the time to show an interest in what we are trying to achieve and made a donation. I have added a short video below of the volunteer program below, if anyone would like to get involved by volunteering or being a site manager for this project please get in touch by email via the website:
- Sophie Martin
- Molly Finn
- Leah Corey
- GoFundMe Team