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150: Saving the Amazon with Daniel Gutierrez: Indigenous Wisdom Meets Modern Conservation

Guest Name(s): Daniel Gutierrez

Matt Matern interviews Daniel Gutierrez, CEO of Saving the Amazon, on their efforts in combating Amazon deforestation. Founded in 2015, the NGO initially focused on connecting people with adopted trees, evolving to a broader mission due to the Amazon’s critical deforestation.

They work closely with indigenous communities across Colombia, Brazil, and Peru, planting over 674,000 trees. Despite 17% of the Amazon being deforested, mainly in Brazil, efforts like the REDD+ program and ACTO have yet to significantly reduce deforestation rates. Daniel emphasizes the need for global collaboration, respect for indigenous knowledge, and substantial conservation investment to protect the Amazon, crucial for the planet’s climate and biodiversity.

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Saving The Amazon seeks to unite the world and local community in a campaign to combat the climate crisis, by planting trees with indigenous communities in the most important ecological sanctuary on the planet, the Amazon rainforest. For Saving The Amazon aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals has made it possible to quantify the impact generated and have a clear line of where to work to change the rules of the game and achieve a lasting and sustainable outcome.
150: Saving the Amazon with Daniel Gutierrez: Indigenous Wisdom Meets Modern Conservation

You’re listening to A Climate Change, this is Matt Matern, your host. And I’ve got Daniel Gutierrez, CEO of Saving the Amazon, on the show, looking forward to talking to Daniel about the work that they’re doing down in the Amazon. replanting forest there, as many people say, the Amazon are the lungs of the planet.

And so important to the planet, to obviously, there’s a lot of deforestation going on down in the Amazon and, and Daniel and his organization are doing a lot to plant trees down there to bring the Amazon back to where it needs to be to keep the planet in balance environmentally. So, Daniel, welcome to the program.

Hello, Matt, thank you very much for the invite. I’m very happy to be here.

Well, Daniel, tell us a little bit about Saving the Amazon and what how that came into being and what type of work that your, your organization does.

Okay, yes, we were born in 2015, our basically became first like, even like a business idea, even we are an NGO, well, we started like a business ideas model, you know, we wanted for people to be able to adopt trees, and to have some kind of technological supervision to the trees that they are adopting, as in having a accountability of the process.

So we wanted then at the moment, I’m still doing it for people to adopt trees that are marked with their name on it, and then send semestral pictures of each trees growth, with your name on it still, so that you could also like have a meaningful connection with them. And that was the first idea. That was an idea that I had with my mom. And we both basically talked it through. And then it became something completely different when we started to talking, talk it through a little bit more. And we decided to go to the Amazon.

Because the Amazon was probably the place where which needed most tree plantings, since it’s also the place with most deforestation, which was in our hand, I’m Colombian person. And a Yeah, so then we went there. And we decided that we needed to work with indigenous communities. That was also a very important part of what then became the NGO and even like my life journey, how it transformed me to get to know much more about their ecocentric life views.

And a, we then decided that this model of sorry, and then we decided that this model of work was going to be done by the indigenous communities and much more than tree planting, it was going to be a work made so that they saw variety of these communities, and their ecocentric live views could be protected. And yeah, empowered.

So we that’s a in a nutshell, like the story of how did it start? It was already nine years ago. And now we’re not only in Colombia, but in other two countries planting trees in Brazil and Peru, more than 30 communities, and the project has already gained some scale, but still with the same fundamentals.

Oh, that’s a great story. I love how it started off with just you and your mom coming up with this idea, which I think is a brilliant one of terms of accountability and getting people to connect to the trees that they’re planting. So they can see hey, the impact that they’re having on the community. Tell us a little bit. I mean, just geography wise. A lot of us think of the Amazon and we think of Brazil, but in truth, I guess the headwaters the Amazon are are they in Colombia or Peru as well. So 62% of the whole Amazon is Brazil. And the rest of the Amazon is composed by seven countries in which Columbia has a 8% of the Amazon of the complete Amazon rainforest, which is actually our 8% is 40% of all of Columbia’s territory.

Like when you think of Columbia, you don’t think of the Amazon at all, but it’s actually 40% of our territory is crazy. But more to answer a little bit your question. Our headquarters of the Amazon is located in a city, a little village city you may say of our Around 50,000 people called me to me to, which is in the department of bow press, one that borders Brazil. So that’s where a our activity started happening. That’s the first community we worked with. And now basically, that’s mostly a where we base our operations.

Okay, so tell us a little bit about, you know, your journey into this. What What was the, the stuff that led up to you, you know, kind of coming to this idea with your mom, what was your, your background, and training and all that?

Yeah, so I guess this may be may sound like a phrase that everybody says, but I’ve always been extremely interested in environment, I guess, not only in the sense of wanting to take care of the world acknowledging the crisis that we’re in, but like, even like, as a spiritual presence to be to be like, I don’t know, in in the presence of trees, and how I could like, feel good when I’m with them and feel more relaxed. That was always important for me. And I think my mom understood that it since I was a very little kid, I would like to read about these kinds of stuff.

I didn’t study it in my undergrad, I did a psychology undergrad. But I guess that was always like an important side of me. And it my mom has a company and all of her life journey, her label of journey. She’s done it with maps with GIS technology, related to GIS technology, she has a company that is kind of being in Colombia that works in that.

So I guess, maybe it was a little bit, let’s see the interests of Danielle and see how I can work them through in with my mom’s like abilities and technology, expertise. And then okay, let’s do something related to our expertise and Daniel’s interests.

So I guess that was maybe one of the reasons why it started being that, but as I told you like a little bit before, then then it became something much different. You know, I have, I have a very nice story that I think it will be nice to say right now, which is, when I first came to vote best place, I told you where we started working with a specific indigenous community called Tiger.

So I went there thinking that the project was very much going to be about trees, you know about trees and geo locating the trees and the people who would adopt them.

But when I came there, and I told the communities, hey, I want to work this project of trees with you. From the beginning, they said, hey, now, we could be keen, we could be interested with but this has to be done our way. We have to be the ones who decide what to plant, where to plant, how decisions are being made about who is the person who plants because we’re working in collective territories. So that was very, like that opened my mind a lot about how it is so important. That the environmental problems that we’re having right now, they’re much more about giving the voice to the people who are who have actually intentions of safeguarding the earth.

So yeah, that’s just something that I wanted to say, oh, that’s, yeah, it’s a very important and I appreciate you sharing it, because it’s, it is something that I’ve heard from a lot of environmentalist leaders that I’ve spoken to is the importance of listening to indigenous populations, and that they’ve got such great lessons for us of how to steward our environment and that we’ve kind of lost our way as kind of Westerners in terms of stewardship, our model of stewardship, or it’s kind of broken, because essentially, we’ve we’ve got a corporate model of business and business is about exploiting resources versus looking seven generations in the future and saying,

Hey, how is this going to affect this community? A couple 100 years from now versus this quarters profit margin. Okay. Yeah, it makes sense to level this forest if all we’re thinking about is what money we’re going to make in the next 90 days versus what’s this community going to be like for my children and my grandchildren, my great grandchildren?

Yeah, I guess that the hyperbolic discounting, they say they call it like that in how we humans understand And that maybe it’s just the short term that we think about. And those definitely are the kind of conversations that we must have not only regarding, like our values and like our, the how the West has created this economy of short term, like, yeah, like shareholder value.

But I guess this also comes from, like the Econ the economic process that we have, right? Whether we thought in economics as what is the journey that we should aspire to, when when we do a business when we are a country? Is GDP growth, the goal? Should that be the goal or not? I think those are the questions questions that we must make ourselves. And in that sense, I think they, as you said, the the knowledge of these communities has much, much more to offer.

I definitely think that as somebody who studied economics and undergraduate, which I did before I went to law school I, I think our system based upon GDP and tethering, all economies and all societies to that statistic is what drives us to the edge of disaster because we’re looking at the wrong statistic.

We’re measuring our success based upon just making more stuff, versus preserving the great stuff that we have. That is invaluable, that can’t be replaced. You know, you don’t, you don’t get a benefit.

Nobody. Nobody says Oh, you did a great job saving a species or saving a forest or something like that. So obviously, there’s value in that but we our societies haven’t valued those things, and probably looking to indigenous communities to say, hey, they they value those things a lot more than we do. So anyway, we’re going to our break right now you’re listening to A Climate Change. I’ve got Daniel Gutierrez from Saving the Amazon on the program, and we’ll be right back in just a minute with Daniel.

Climate change this is Matt Matern. And I’ve got Daniel Gutierrez from Saving the Amazon on the show. And Daniel, kind of getting back to what we were talking about earlier, in terms of the lungs, you know, the Amazon being the lungs of the planet? How badly has deforestation affected the Amazon jungle and the rainforest there?
Okay, so I’m gonna give you right now, the main statistic that you may have to know about how affected the Amazon is, and what could that mean for us, as the whole society, and that’s why they call the Amazon, the lungs of the world.

So Amazon has been deforested in 17% of the whole Amazon has been deforested. This has been happening mostly in Brazil. And but right now, we’re also having like a lot of deforestation, like around Colombia, Peru, and basically, in these spaces of frontier, where like the development of like the productive system is going mostly to these frontiers.

Now, how important is this? So the IPCC, which is like the main authority regarding climate change, obviously, you know about these matters, I am guessing the people who are listening to the past to this podcast must know this as well. But they talk about these turning points, these inflection points about like certain a phenomenon, that dimensions of what’s going on with the Earth system that could flip if, like, the degradation of them still is happening. So one of the one of those is the Amazon, which is our tropical rainforest.

That’s the name of the ecosystem of the Amazon, right, the tropical rainforest. And if deforestation continues that way, like the prediction the latest latest predictions that scientists talk about, is, if it goes still not known exactly the percentage but between 30 to 30%, of deforestation, it will start a process like an inflection point in which the whole Amazon will turn into a savanna. So not longer a tropical rainforest, but a savanna for the whole Amazon because it will change its structure as a complete system.

So like that is a very a very scary also because like the Amazon is it’s not only like not only speaking about carbon, which A lot of times when we’re thinking about environmentalism, and we’re always speaking about carbon, but like, like all of the reigns of Latin America, and even a piece of the US, like the southern part of the US, is regulated throughout the Amazon.

So basically, me, I mean, the all of the services that is that this ring gives us about the predictability, the agriculture, etc, could be lost if this process continues. So that’s kind of where we are right now.

So, in terms of turning it around, what, what percentage or what is the amount of rain forests is currently being cut down every year? And what percentage of the rain forest is kind of being reforested? by you and your organization and organizations like yours? You know, is it kind of keeping even or are we losing ground in terms of more land is being deforested every year by, you know, big companies, I agricultural and stuff like that.

Now? Absolutely, and completely losing the battle. So deforestation in the whole Amazon, because as I told you, it depends between countries, let’s say, for example, Ghana is right now, he was a very in the news these days regarding climate change, because he did a confrontation to our BBC News guy, saying, interesting topic. But uh, he basically Ghana has like almost no deforestation. But when you go to Brazil or Colombia, there’s a lot of it.

So talking about the number that you asked me, where like, right now a year, in around 1 million to 1.5 million hectares of deforestation in the whole Amazon, what do we have in Colombia, which is like the one that I have the specific number about, because these statistics, they vary a lot depending on the way that they are measured. So in Colombia, last year, we had deforestation of 140,000 hectares. So how is the tree planting and the deforestation? Are we eating it up? As you asked?

Before answering that question, with the number, it’s important to understand that when a tree is cut off, like what they call a primary forest, like some trees that have been around for more than 30 years, and like the complexities of their interactions between trees have already evolved in so many different ways to enhance biodiversity? It’s so different the ecosystem services that they give one, there have been long standing like primary forests than when we are planting them, like from the beginning, right?

So like, it’s not only like about how many hectares are we planting, compared to how many hectares have been lost, but actually, you know, like, if we lose, like, one hectare, I mean, we should plant at least five, because like, they, they it doesn’t add up the services that they give when it’s planted and, and conserved.

That’s why a lot of people say and when you see like in the World Resources Institute and these big multilateral, multilateral institutions, which are working in these kinds of topics, they’re always saying, the main thing we should do should be avoiding deforestation.

So now a little bit more answering to your question. Colombia 170,000 hectares, a being lost 134 hectares being lost, sorry, 5000, between 5000 to 60,000 hectares being restored actively by planting trees. So like, we are very much far away, not even at 10% of what we should be doing regarding planting trees if they will be evening it up.

Okay, so that that gives the audience a good sense or gives me a good sense of how far behind we are, I guess the questions? How do we stop the deforestation? What would be the best ways to just, you know, slow it down and then ultimately stop it?

Yeah. So that once again, I think it speaks about different drivers of deforestation depending on where where are we located? So in Brazil, let’s say a lot of different deforestation comes from the big industries right from the soy palm industries.

Yep, from the palm industries and from the cattle ranching industries. So there you have like, very big capitals which are investing a lot of money and then that like there is not much a sober regularity of The government’s around what’s happening in those lands.

But let’s say in Colombia, for example, the drivers are deficient, deforestation has are a little bit different. It’s much more because like, we have some conflict, our way long conflict of like, more than 5060 years, in which nobody actually knows who the land belongs to in Colombia, because of all of what has been going on with the drugs, war and drug wars and the armed conflict.

So people just cut some trees, put a couple of cows, not because they are very interested in in the cattle ranching business, but more because they’re cutting some trees and putting some cows is a way of saying this land is mine.

So regarding that, like, it depends between each country, which kind of drivers do they have? I very much like the framework that is used to understand deforestation, which is you have some direct drivers, and then you have indirect drivers, right? So which are the direct drivers, the actual people who are making who are literally making the action of deforestation. So let’s say you have to put a road, when you create a road, like you have to cut some trees to create that road, right? That will be a direct driver of deforestation, but then that road becomes also an indirect driver of deforestation, because it makes it easier to people who may be interested to make deforestation to be around that place, right.

So in that sense, we are talking about indirect and direct drivers, the indirect being most like what a makes it easier for this act of deforestation to happen from the from the from the direct drivers, I very much like that framework is the most widely used to understand deforestation. So in that sense, when you look at what’s going on, not even between countries, you know, even like in inside a country in different places, like the causes may be very different. But one that it’s definitely a way forward to look at solutions.

I think it’s in all of the Amazon countries, we have the same the same pattern, which is when you give the land to indigenous people. So for so for them to say the word and for them to say that it’s their own land, deforestation rates go extremely low. It is mostly when you give the land to private actors who may be interested in like, yeah, like understanding the the the land as a place to extract for extractive industries, when there is most possibility of deforestation. So there, you can start to see some patterns.

Yeah, so are there any efforts in Brazil and Colombia and Peru? Or what are the efforts that are being taken to give more land to indigenous people? And How successful have they been over the last number of years?

There has been a lot of efforts, actually, right now, there’s a campaign that comes from the UN, like, which attends that 30% of the whole land of the world. It has some kind of conservation figure, right? Maybe some of you guys have heard about it, about that.

And a regarding that, like a lot of countries of the Amazon are trying to align into that goal. And a way of doing that is literally giving territories to the indigenous communities. So I yeah, I’m gonna continue afterwards, because right now we have

Sure, we’ll go to a break right now. And stay tuned. We’ll be right back with Daniel Gutierrez. This is Matt Matern, and you’re listening to A Climate Change stay tuned.

You listen to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern. And I’ve got Daniel Gutierrez, who is the CEO of Saving the Amazon on the program. Daniel, before the break, we were talking about, you know, saving 30% of the land. And I know we’re focusing I think the Biden administration is trying to do that here in the US, and I think some groups are trying to save up to 50% in the land by 2050.

So how is that playing out in and around the Amazon? And in particular, we were talking about giving more land to indigenous groups and is that happening in Brazil and And as well as Colombia and Peru and the surrounding area?

Yes, the answer is an absolutely yes. It is happening in Brazil, it is happening in Colombia. I know that it’s been also happening in in Peru, they’re the main like number to give to you guys about it is like, in 77 years ago, there was a park, which was like it like, it was like a 2 million hectare park that we have in Columbia, which before it was a 600,000, hectare park, and then they made it that 2 million Park. But from the beginning, it was clear and in like in the negotiation of how would that happen, that it would belong to the safeguarding of the indigenous communities for them to live there, and to be the people who would like impose the social order on it.

So that is actually happening, sometimes with difficulties for sure. Because like, giving certain communities some a land, what specifically when you’re talking about indigenous communities, their collective territories, there’s a thing where you give it to them. But they, for example, are not able to sell it once again, you can’t make you just give it to them. And it’s like for free, but then they, they, they can’t do anything about it.

And in certain territories, let’s say for example, in Ecuador, they don’t actually have access, let’s say to the carbon, the carbon of those of those trees, so they wouldn’t be able to sell it. So like there’s still a lot of negotiations, and a song tensions about how this happens. But it’s definitely happening. And it’s very positive that it’s happening. Because when you see the rates of deforestation is one of the best measures that you can do.

So I guess the question is, how that can be accelerated. And maybe other things too, in terms of I’ve, I’ve listened to read a lot about animal agriculture. And that seems to be one of the main drivers of deforestation, as well as just agriculture in general and whether or not we can change our agriculture practices, and maybe are eating practices to eat less, less meat, would probably require less land to be deforested.

Is that having any effect? Are we seeing anything? Or are people just eating more and more meat as as our society gets richer? And such as places like India and China become more middle class? There? They’re going to they’re consuming lots more meat than they ever used to? Is that going to just keep driving deforestation at massive levels? Because they’re going to want to eat more meat?

Yeah, I very much like your question, because I think you’ve framed it in a way that I also like to frame it. And I like to do the analogy with with what goes on with the drug wars in Colombia, or in general, like, in general, with all the problem of the drug trafficking industries. I want to say industries, but like, yeah, the drug trafficking business.

So we here in Latin America, and what has been going on in Colombia, what has gone gone on in Colombia has just like, there’s so much demand for the cocaine. And like, then there’s some people who will just try to pursue those business because they’re extremely profiting. And then like, even if we have governments and most people don’t like that business, and they have seen how much violence are and how much terrible things have happened to Colombia, because of it, like, if there is a demand, like someone will supply it, and like they’re the criminals will look the way to actually supply it.

So in that sense, I think goes, same pattern with literally how much land do we need to make a to eat right? And if we’re eating meat, the cow meat is for sure. The animal that needs most land to be able to feed itself so that then we can be fed by it, then it will definitely create more deforestation pressure, without a doubt. I mean, in what you were saying about how a lot of countries are like in their journey to development and like now there’s starting their diets are becoming much more meat meat based.

That is actually even also happening in Colombia. You know, you can you don’t even have to go to India or China where it’s definitely happened. And that for sure creates more pressure over We’re over these territories. So in that sense, when you see the economical side of what is pressuring up the supply, I think we’re I mean, I it’s not I think like this, the fixes are clearly showing that not we’re not going in a positive, positive direction.

But I also think that there’s like, some some policies that have been going on that could like also work work on that like, so let’s say, for example, right now, all of like, like all over Latin America, it’s been discussed how the different policies that the EU is enforcing about making complete, being completely sure that the crops that enter the EU are deforestation free.

And they do it throughout satellite imagery, where they have to actually know specifically the meat that you are eating, where does it? Where did it come from? And what was going on with that specific forest two months ago? I mean, I think those are like, pretty positive. Yeah, policies that are going on right now. And that me as a person who is like involved in these, in this line of work, like, I’ve seen that everybody’s talking about it here and trying to prepare for it. So good things are happening as well. That’s

good. Yeah, I think that companies are being forced to look down the supply chains, and saying, Hey, is my supply chain really free of things that are causing environmental degradation? And, and, and a lot of groups are looking a lot more carefully.

And that’s, that’s good, because transparency means that, that these companies are going to have to clean up their their act. I know, you had gone to Oxford and done a master’s thesis on on these issues. Tell us a little bit about your thesis and, and how that comes into play and the work that you’re doing on a day to day basis?

Yeah, well, something that a when I started with taming the Amazon and like that attractive, very much my attention is like this idea of the Amazon being the lungs of the world, as you said in the beginning, right. So like, this idea of the whole world needs the Amazon, and in that sense how the world needs that the whole world needs the Amazon, what discussions have been talked about the possibility of understanding the Amazon as a place for the whole world, right.

So like, as in the whole world, should should safeguard it. So I’ve always been interested in that, in that kind of like, planetary consciousness kind of a, like vibe. So I studied, like the multilateral like agreements that have been created around the Amazon. What I did was studying two of them, one of them is like, based on this program called red plus r e d d plus, which is reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.

This was a program that was a basically created in the UN circles, so that countries could be paid for avoiding deforestation, because before like, nobody would pay these countries. And in that sense, if if the global south countries are not cutting the trees, as the Global North has done, let’s say Europe, like I mean, they should receive some kind of compensation for the whole world. So in that kind of sense, this scheme was created. And specifically in Colombia, it was implemented with donations from the UK, Germany and Norway.

So what I did a was studying what actually went on with those projects in Colombia where they’re successful, were they not successful, like how they were actually implemented? Because a lot of the KPIs that a lot of times these multilateral institutions have are how many money have we gave given, right, but like, hey, maybe like, it’s not only about how many money you gave, right? It’s about the actual decisions to enforce governance in those territories.

And the second one, which is going to be after the after the short that we’re going to have to tell you a little bit more about my conclusions was there’s an organist, there’s an institution called the HCdo, which is called the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, in which all of the countries that make part of the Amazon make part of this organization, and it is throughout the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, that everybody speaks in there so that they can make decisions together of how to save Got the Amazon, all of the countries that make part of it.

So I also analyzed what was going on with with that institution, specifically, historically, how is it something positive? How is it something that like, doesn’t work? So looking into those two dimensions of multilateralism in the Amazon was my, my dissertation, and yeah, maybe there’ll be for next part.

Okay, well, we’ll, we’ll jump back into that right after the break. Everybody, you’re listening to A Climate Change. And we’ve got Daniel Gutierrez of Saving the Amazon on the program and getting a Oxford-like seminar here on the program today. So stay tuned if you want to get your diploma.

You’re listening to A Climate Change, I’ve got Daniel Gutierrez, CEO of Saving the Amazon. And Daniel, you’re telling us about, you know, the work you did at Oxford, on the red plus, and the AC to organizations and your study of these and, and whether you found these programs that were being used were effective. And maybe you could tell us how effective you think they are and how they maybe could be improved upon?

Okay, let’s start with the CTO. The CTO, as I said, is like, basically the institution that is the official channel for governments that encompass the Amazon, to make decisions together, about how to handle it. But as we all know, as well, everybody thinks the Amazon is Brazil, and because like they have more than 50% of the Amazon. Right. So in those conversations, a multilateral conversations of that place, Brazil also things the Amazon is Brazil.

So basically, Brazil, like has a lot of power in it. And since Decisions have to make be made by consensus, what do I What do I mean by consensus, like, everybody has to agree if they’re gonna sign it anything. So it’s extremely hard, because Brazil always wants to have its own way. Also, like, because like their, their diplomacy, their diplomat, power is much bigger, they have a lot of more employees that are working on that. And like they’re like, also, because they’re a much bigger country. So it’s something that I first, that was an important insight.

So like, when you think about the Amazon trying to work things through between countries, there’s a lot of political discussions behind it. So as the whole world is happening right now, right now, Latin America is also an ideological Battlefield, where we have a lot of leftist governments, and we have some very right wing government. So these difference in ideological perspectives, is also very Latin in this multilateral like, Minister of Foreign Affairs institutions.

So when I left this government comes, then he becomes angry with the other right wing government, and then they don’t make decisions, because there’s certain words that they don’t agree on, there’s even it’s extremely interesting, because you even have a lot of discussions about a just some words that reflect different live views that governments may have. So let’s say Ecuador, and Bolivia, which are countries that also make part of the Amazon.

They like a lot to speak about Mother Earth, this, like indigenous wisdom, kind of a language. And let’s say Brazil, and Colombia, which are not so much based on indigenous wisdom in their governments. They don’t like it at all when they speak about Mother Earth, because they’re just like, hey, no, no, no, you have to be as scientific as possible.

So even this, like, specific that you may say stupid things about how do we define our relationship with the earth, then they are the ones that don’t allow for things to evolve, surprisingly, you know, like these specifics, specific issues about words.

So my analysis in general was that this organization in HTO, was not very effective. was not there wasn’t a lot of things going on with it. Like it had a little budget and IT budget was just to make little research that could encompass something that that are like the show They’re problems that the Amazon countries have.

But yeah, not not very effective as you we may think, in this idea of the panama, panama Sonic territory that we could create. So yeah, that was like my first analysis in the AC to one. And I don’t know, Matt, if you have any.

I want to ask a follow up question that because Venezuela is kind of a wildcard in, in that area. And I’m curious if they’re, they’re a part of that organization, and what, what they’ve been doing or not doing related to the to the Amazon.

They are part of that organization. But when I was there doing my dissertation in research, that was like, one year and eight months ago, actually, they hadn’t paid their subscription that they had to pay and government who pays it, like for two or three years. So like I spoke with, like the president of the CTO at the moment, and for my research, and he was like, we don’t know what to do with these guys.

Oh, yeah. It is definitely a wild card and something that it’s very difficult to handle for sure. Because I know, let’s say, right now, we have a leftist president in Colombia. But before our president was maybe the main, the president who was most against the Maduro regime. Right. So how can you speak together spoken speak about conservation, when you hate each other so much in the government level? So that’s definitely an issue, Matt.
Right. So let’s shift over to the, to the other group, which you were saying like Germany and Norway and the UK had been funding some programs to stop deforestation, and how effective has that been, or any of the other programs that you’ve you started?

Yeah, so the amount of money in this in this red plus program that these three countries have been giving to Colombia has been last time I checked with, which was last year $237 million. So that’s that, that’s a lot of money to avoid deforestation. So, basically, the idea was, let’s see, where the deforestation hotspots are, and put money there, so that we can shift up the kind of productive activities that the people do over there, so that there is no need for deforestation, and they can create like, what what is called right now, a bio economy, right?

An economy where people can resolve their needs by keeping the trees standing. So the carbon market could be very much involved there, but also like, Oh, what is the economy like doing fruit trees, or other kinds of services that the the, the standing forest may give you. So, basically, that money then goes to a four different a type of activities, one being more like giving productive possibilities to the to the people who have been cutting the trees, mostly, which are not in the indigenous territories, but in other places, you know, the places where we call them campesinos, like the villagers, which are not indigenous, they’re the ones who are mostly cutting up the trees.

So giving them opportunities. There was also a pillar now I remember what it was called a pillar for indigenous people 20% of the money was give giving there 60% of the money was given to the villagers, because that’s where like the theory goes, where the deforestation is actually happening is where we have to put our efforts, right, not the place where we know that these guys are kind of already taking care of the forest. Then they also gave some money so that they could so that they got so that the Ministry of Environment could create public policy, like literally to create public policy.

And the other one was to show that the Ministry of Environment could interact truly with other ministers ministries, because when you’re thinking about deforestation, you have to think with do you have to speak also with the Minister of Energy, with the Minister of Transport with even with the Ministry of Tourism, so like giving, making sure that all of these interactions can happen so that we can avoid deforestation? What has been what a this program this red plus program did?

So what are my conclusions? When you see the actual figures of number of hectares that have been deforested? Like, figures have haven’t haven’t gone down? It went down last year, but from when I was studying, it was still rising. So in that sense, the results haven’t been very good. But I should also say that, you know, like, the guy who was leading this process that I interviewed, he would always tell me, you know, fighting against deforestation is not 100 meter race, it’s a marathon.

It’s a marathon. What does it mean? That there’s a lot of enabling a necessities of how of how this could actually be done regarding shifting the values of the people who are doing the deforestation, and all which is related with the indirect drivers that we were speaking about earlier, that are actually being worked on. So regarding what I saw, I do have a faith in the sense that this money has been well spent.

And we’re gonna see like a much lower rate of deforestation, as may could be the case is already happening because of last year’s figures, which went down that much. So yeah, that could be maybe like, my good news that we’re seeing some degree of progress, though, we look at $237 million. And that’s a lot of money. But when we consider the trillions of dollars that are being spent on other things, you know, that we certainly could fund and should fund billions and billions, if not trillions of dollars to save the rainforest.

I mean, because we consider that all life on the planet depends on it. Certainly, that’s worth that kind of money to save it. And we’re just not investing the kinds of money that we need to be putting into it. Let me just kind of pivot back to your organization and what you guys are doing and I know we’ve got only about a minute to wrap it up, but tell us how many trees you planted and, and where people can find you on the internet to give and get their tree planted.

So right now we have planted more than 674,000 trees in mostly in Colombia, but also in Brazil and Peru. As I told you it already, we’re working with more than 700 families. And the way to look for us it’s quite easy, SavingTheAmazon.org and you can also find us on Instagram, @SavingtheAmazon.

And we’re also through A Climate Change. If you guys follow us on A Climate Change. We’re planting trees in the Amazon through Daniel’s organization and you can follow Daniel and your trees on his website. It’s SavingtheAmazon.com

So, thank you so much, Daniel , for being on the program. Appreciate the great work that you’re doing and look forward to seeing our trees growing there in the Amazon.

(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)

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