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soil conservation





Our Projects

Installation of the Hydraulic Turbine at Santa Rosa

Cerro Golondrinas

Within the demonstration area of Santa Rosa, The Golondrinas Foundation relies on the installation and operation of a hydroelectric turbine from the flow of the Golondrinas River. This project was developed eight years ago owing to an earlier study conducted by engineer Ralph Pecenka in 1997. International organizations such as the ASA Program, Tierra Unida of Germany, Engineers Without Borders, Energy Electricity of Belgium, TERPESAC of Peru, and FEDETA of Ecuador provided technical assistance. Thanks to the logistical efforts of volunteers, local people and Golondrinas Foundation staff, the turbine was put into place. Later on, the necessary installations were done and we tested its capacity to generate electricity with a successful outcome.

With the hydraulic turbine at Santa Rosa we have demonstrated how you can make good use of your natural resources such as is the case with this alternative energy, which also helps improve the standard of living for the local people. The operation of the turbine serves as a model for many organizations and people who are working for environmental conservation. Our promise is to make our knowledge and experience available to all interested parties, such as organizations and individuals who are searching to advance the existing socioeconomic situation by making the most of their natural resources.

Agroforestry Demonstration Farm, Applying Permaculture Principles in the Subtropical Zone

Agroforestry is a method of agriculture in which certain species of trees, grasses and bushes are planted next to traditional crops from the area. When the trees, grasses, bushes and crops are planted in an organized way, multiple benefits result: wind barriers, erosion barriers, nitrogen fixers in the soil, firewood, and habitats for varying animal species.

Guallupe, located in the Lower Rio Mira Valley, is a village where the foundation has established the application of agroforestry on the slopes and hillsides that need protection from the inappropriate plantings that have contributed to the serious impoverishment of the surface layers of soil.

Demonstration Farm Peña Negra

This demonstration farm was established in 1998. It was named Peña Negra [Black Crag] because it is located at 850 meters altitude, ten minutes from the parish of La Carolina (Guallupe Sector) on the Ibarra-San Lorenzo highway. This farm applies the techniques related to agroforestry and the philosophy of permaculture in combination with traditional crops of the area such as fruit trees, timber-yielding trees and others of multiple uses such as leguminous trees and other nitrogen fixers that are short, medium and long term.

Currently, around 55 different species exist on our farm, a majority of which are native to the area and others which are introduced species but have adapted favorably to the environment. The farm also has its own nursery where it reproduces and grafts plants.

Peña Negra includes approximately three cultivated hectares with substantially positive results. Being certain of our successful outcomes allows us to feel confident in sharing our knowledge and experience with other farmers. This model farm was created by Fabián Manteca, agroforestry and permaculture design specialist. He has been working with The Golondrinas Foundation from the very beginning and applying these techniques.

The knowledge that Fabián Manteca has acquired not only in agroforestry and permaculture, but at the Center for Tropical Forest Research in Cali, Colombia [CIAT], through a course with RAFE, the Ecuadorian Agroforest Network, and through a GAIA permaculture course in Argentina, has motivated him to establish this farm. As of October, 1998 we also rely on technical advice from Edilton Folleco, a soil management and horticulture specialist.

Mr. Manteca trains local farmers and young adults who participate actively in the demonstration farm Peña Negra. In establishing this model farm, Fabián Manteca has received support and collaboration from The Golondrinas Foundation as well as volunteers and friends from different parts of the world.

The Foundation has proposed to conduct thorough training programs that will be practical and interactive. They will start at a basic level, teaching the advantages of planting horizontally following contour lines instead of planting vertically. Afterwards, we will move to the practical level and view all the techniques employed at Peña Negra and Santa Rosa such as the use of Vetiver grass, the combination of different types of crops and the use of secondary forest as a sustainable resource.

The Golondrinas Foundation has also completed silvipastoral trainings during the last three years in the Lower Rio Mira Valley where a large percentage of the country's agriculture exists. This is why the foundation makes its silvipastoral trainings and experts' advice available to farmers on both a national and international scope.

Using Vetiver Grass for Erosion Control and Terrace Formation

Currently, the farm contains a large variety of species in production which also serve as training aids in courses with the local farmers. Here, we demonstrate the best way to use the soil and the appropriate techniques for better crop yields.

Within the farm you will find terrace formations and contour lines using Vetiver (vetiveria zizanioides) which is a grass originating from India that helps counteract erosion. One of its major benefits is soil retention, or rather, erosion control.

Camas de Reproducción

The Golondrinas Foundation has been experimenting with the best techniques and soil uses for the last six years. Through this research we have discovered the existence of Vetiver grass. We searched for information through The Vetiver Network who informed us about CIAT, The International Center on Tropical Agriculture in Cali. They donated the first young plants to us. We trained and observed the beneficial practice of this grass in the formation of terraces and the retention of soil.

Later on, CIAT showed us places in Ecuador where we could get this grass and told us about DFC, Farmer Forest Development. They also mentioned the Margarita Hacienda, property of the Ministry of Agriculture on the coast. This is how after some investigation, The Golondrinas Foundation obtained the information and introduced Vetiver to the Lower Rio Mira Valley, as a way to help eroded soils in the area.

We understand Vetiver to have multiple uses such as: water retention, wall retention, soil improvement and in the perfume industry, among other things. However, we still have not made use of these qualities since we are located in an area with steep slopes and our biggest problem is erosion. Another reason is that this is an agricultural zone in which there still isn't the acceptance and conviction that this grass can help re-establish soil with the formation of terraces. Our greatest concern is to train farmers to improve their crop yield so that they can raise the standard of living for their family and future generations.

We are promoting and distributing Vetiver to farmers and organizations so they can use in the required locations and to give technical advice to show the benefits this grass can offer. This plant is simple to maintain and adapts easily whenever it is planted at the right altitude.

Naranjilla Training at Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa is located in the Carchi province in the parish El Goatal inside the Cerro Golondrinas Protected Forest Reserve. Here we have a nursery where seeds of trees in extinction as well as of naranjillas are reproduced. There are also areas of secondary forest which provide a forest grove- ideal for the naranjilla plant.

For the moment, this fruit has been accepted and we hope that it will provide an alternative or favorable income for the people in the communities that earn their living cutting down trees. Another reason for its acceptance is that many farmers are dedicated to the cultivation of hybrid naranjilla, the one that is abundantly produced with the use of chemicals and requires a lot of light. The naranjilla plant used for juice is planted under secondary forest, thus avoiding the use of chemicals and the total destruction of the forest.

We follow up after each training session until the desired result is achieved to share knowledge with local farmers.

It is important to point out that all the tests and alternatives we employ utilize methods of biological control and organic compost.

Environmental Education for Children and Farmers

In terms of education, we work with various local schools, some with only one teacher and others with many, where learning happens with scarce academic and inspirational resources. These schools have managed to cover their educational needs with few incentives for creativity and motivation.

Since 1995, The Golondrinas Foundation has been implementing environmental education classes mostly directed to local children because they are the ones will be working the land in the future. They will need to have a better understanding of the use of resources through agroforestry techniques to prevent teenage migration to the cities. We hope that offering them work alternatives in this way will satisfy their needs while at the same time maintain their culture and traditions.

In 1995, this program began with 15 children between the ages of 8 and 12 participating on weekends. We have searched for spaces where we can facilitate creativity and contact with ecology as an alternative subject that allows them to value their surrounding and the richness of nature, as a form of environmental education. In 1997, we realized a series of activities such as the following.

  • . Continuing classes on the importance of natural resources (1997-2002)
  • . Vacation classes on recycling and crafts with local seeds (1997-2003)
  • . Theater activities during the celebrations of Arbor Day and Earth Day (annually)
  • . Projects raising small animals (chickens)
  • . Field trips to natural areas, zoos and museums

Currently, we take trips to the demonstrations sites that The Golondrinas Foundation manages. We work with five community schools during the school year. These classes are dynamic, interactive, based on talks, videos and practical classes open to the creativity of the children thereby improving their self-esteem. Some of the activities they do include celebrating Arbor Day and field trips to sites where environmental conservation is practiced such as at Peña Negra and the Cerro Golondrinas Protected Forest Reserve.

In the future, we will also conduct nutrition classes for women. These classes will demonstrate the wide variety of fruits and vegetables which, in the right combination, can provide a complete diet rich in vitamins.

The Golondrinas Foundation is convinced that education is the answer that will provide future generations with a higher standard of living and a significant increase in self-worth. The organization has focused its efforts especially on children since they tend to be more open to learning and are the future of this region and the world.

Ecological Murals in Community Schools

As part of the environmental education program, murals have been painted on the schools. We've observed how stimulating it is to see respect for nature expressed in a painting, with direct messages stating its importance. Using this means of expression has been an excellent educational tool.

Future Projects

The following is a description of some of the projects we plan to accomplish:

  • . A museum with photographs of native species found in the cloud forest
  • . Reforestation of secondary forest with native species in extinction
  • . Environmental classes directed to local farmers
  • . Nutrition classes directed to women
  • . Continuation of environmental classes directed to children at local schools
  • . Field trips with children to regional sites that are related in some way to conservation

The realization of these projects is possible thanks to the support of organizations, friends, and volunteers, who have contributed their time and special talents to our project. We hope to have the same luck in the future so that we can continue to fulfill the goals of The Golondrinas Foundation.

If you wish to contribute and support The Golondrinas Foundation's current activities or would like to obtain more information about future projects please do not hesitate to rnaturaleza@hotmail.com or fgolondrinas@yahoo.com.


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Fundación Golondrinas es una organizacion no gubernamental sin fines de lucro, fue creada, con el Acuerdo Ministerial. # 213 del 26 de junio 1996-MAG/INEFAN.

© Fundación Golondrinas 2008

(C) 2008 FUNDACION GOLONDRINAS, /Gualupe - Ecuador