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Community Development

At its heart, Hoja Nueva is an organization for the people- particularly the people that call the Piedras home.

Contrasting with many conservation plans that separate human development from nature, we acknowledge the vital interactions between people and the environment and how one influences the other. While one of our goals is to safeguard the forest from unnecessary destruction, we also aim to ensure that our neighbors and friends enjoy the greatest standards of living available to them.

The community of Lucerna is currently home to about sixty people, all of whom have recently emigrated from the Andean region of Peru. Hoja Nueva’s programs are all cooperative- we only become involved in aspects of the community that we are requested to. Proper waste management and a lack of education are the two main deficiencies that have been identified by the community and we plan to help provide solutions to positively influence the health and wellbeing of Lucerna’s citizens, particularly youth.

Waste Management

Since Lucerna is only accessible by a small logging road, trash collection is not implemented. Garbage is either burned or thrown on the ground. As a result, trash is highly evident in the community, and inevitably ends up in the forest, washed into the river, or in the ground, affecting both their water and food.

Our waste management program, led by Danielle Bogardus, was launched in 2016 with great success. In order to first evaluate the amount of waste produced by the community, and relatively what types were most prominent, Danielle began personally measuring and sorting waste for each family home in Lucerna. We’ve now met with the Presidents of several communities, environmental representatives, the those in charge of waste management in the city of Puerto Maldonado to come up with a realistic system for the people of Lucerna to safely discard waste. In addition to continuously monitoring water and soil quality, we also plan to investigate whether small pieces of trash (plastic) can actually be found in the feces of livestock in Lucerna, and what this means for food and water quality.

We would like to implement regular trash cleanup programs in Lucerna and promote the creation of eco-bricks; water bottles that are stuffed with compacted plastic wrappers. Once full, eco-bricks are incredibly strong and can be used in construction projects. This is just one way that waste like bottles can be converted and reused in a sustainable way to avoid adding to a landfill.

Education

There is a one-room schoolhouse in the community of Lucerna, where there are certain basic educational classes provided to students of all ages. We would like to diversify the education taught in the classroom and provide additional material for more advanced children in the maths, sciences, natural environment, and language. A better education gives increased financial opportunities for the coming generation that do not have to include logging or agriculture.

As part of our intern program, interns are expected to present their projects findings at the end of the semester in a way that local people can understand and use. Often times, researchers pass through communities like this, documenting peoples’ lives and investigating their lands without ever fully sharing their research. At Hoja Nueva, we share all aspects of our research with the community, as is is them who can benefit the most!

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