By Susana Madera |
Quito (EFE).- More than 30,000 articulated hectares, hundreds of species of flora and fauna, and a world of flavors and knowledge come together in “the largest biodiverse edible forest (BCB) in the world”, a model of sustainable development and community in Ecuador, which involves various actors to strengthen the social, environmental and conservation fabric.
At the moment, the project “has managed to articulate 33,000 hectares of conservation, through the acquisition of land by the Bocavaldivia Foundation and the adhesion of existing reserves,” as well as with the participation of companies, local governments, international organizations and the community, among others, tells EFE Rodrigo Pacheco, creator of the project, which seeks to transcend borders.
“Let’s go for more”, he notes when pointing out that there is a million-hectare forest that unites Ecuador and Peru, which could be added to the project that -for the moment- is located in the province of Manabí, on the central coast of Ecuador , and which Pacheco refers to as the “world’s largest biodiverse edible forest”.
The BCB “is a local solution to global problems”, since the plant is “the best existing technology for humans, not only to capture carbon, (but also to) preserve water resources, shelter wildlife, generate food, roof , medicine, materials, beauty and economic opportunities”.
With ten years in the project, Pacheco has found more than 150 types of birds in the BCB and has seen -among others- anteaters, howler monkeys, humpback whales, dolphins and sea turtles, since the forest “also includes the oceanic part” .
“We see water, but below there is a coral forest, there are plants and algae,” he adds, clarifying that the marine part is not included in the counted hectares “because we don’t have a way to legally embrace that.”
Pacheco, chef by profession and goodwill ambassador for the UN, highlights the high biodiversity that BCB houses.
“I am on the coast. In five minutes I am in a mangrove watching patillos and other types of birds totally different from marine ones, and when I insert myself in a matter of meters into the tropical dry forest, I already meet guacharacas, caciques and many other species of birds. It is a spectacle of wildlife that lives in these transitional forests, ”she narrates.
receding dry forests
The chef also warns that “less than 2% of the dry forests remain in Ecuador, a country that has 0.2% of the earth’s surface and is home to 10% of all the plant species that exist in the world.”
Pacheco, 41, lacks time to enumerate all the species of flora that exist in the BCB: cocoa, avocados, custard apples, soursop, mamey colorado, guaba (guama), star apple, chonta, guava, mango, coffee, oranges …and others that he also uses in his kitchen, because he believes that gastronomy also combats the climate crisis.
“Gastronomy is responsible, to a large extent, for climate change, because we generate production, distribution and waste management systems that do not go hand in hand with the conservation of resources”, and hence the importance of cultivation, of knowing where the products come from, their process and waste management, he indicates.
Gastronomy: the engine
The idea of the BCB germinated in Pacheco a decade ago and began “with zero hectares”, but it evolved, supported by biologists, ecologists, designers, communicators, experts in amphibians, marine life, tropical dry forests, legal issues, financial and circular economy, among others.
He confesses that the engine of everything was gastronomy: “The land was bare, we planted cocoa and began to develop more and more crops, but we started with nothing, with seeds, with love, with vision, but also with water, land and the necessary climate,” he says.
At the beginning they had to travel 150 kilometers to buy something, so they decided to sow what they were going to consume at the hotel and the Bocavaldivia restaurant, where they rescue the ancestral.
Biodiversity: the emblematic dish
People from more than a hundred countries have come to the biological and cultural corridor, and have tasted the gastronomy of Bocavaldivia, which has its most important pantry in the BCB, with unique products in the world, for which its emblematic dish “is the biodiversity”.
And it is that the BCB has several ecosystems distributed in different forests: Cantagallo, Passiflora, El Abrazo, Maquipucuna, Playa de Oro, Minacuno, Cordillera del Bálsamo, among others that, together support the rescue of biodiversity, the restoration of ecosystems and wildlife recovery.
“The edible forest generates life,” Pacheco asserts, pointing out that his neighbor cut down the forest, and now, while the BCB takes advantage of the catalog of biodiversity, enjoys the polychromatic landscape and the symphony of nature, on the other side reigns the monoculture silence.