Amazon rainforest children to get medicinal plant training from shamans
Grant from Nature's Path expands cultural program
November 21, 2007
The Amazon rainforest houses tens of thousands of plant species, many of which hold promise for warding off pests and fighting human disease. No one understands the secrets of these plants better than indigenous shamans -- medicine men and women -- who have astounding knowledge of this botanical library. But like the forests themselves, this floral genius is fast-disappearing due to deforestation and profound cultural transformation among younger generations. The combined loss of this knowledge and these forests irreplaceably impoverishes the world of cultural and biological diversity.
Children learning about indigenous plants of the rainforest
"With this generous grant from Nature's Path, we can further touch the youngest among the Amazonian tribes, helping them to learn the wisdom of their elders and, simultaneously, fostering a greater sense of pride in their culture," said Mark J. Plotkin, president and co-founder of the Amazon Conservation Team.
The Nature's Path contribution, which comes through its EnviroFund program, will go towards expanding the "Shamans and Apprentices" to include grammar school-age children within villages. EnviroFund grants support programs dealing with endangered species, habitat conservation and environmental education for kids around the globe.
Nature's Path has been supporting ACT's efforts in the Amazon since 2001. One of its cereals, Amazon Flakes, highlights the ACT and includes information on rainforests on the back of each box.
Amazon natives use Google Earth, GPS to protect rainforest home.
Deep in the most remote jungles of South America, Amazon Indians (Amerindians) are using Google Earth, Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping, and other technologies to protect their fast-dwindling home. Tribes in Suriname, Brazil, and Colombia are combining their traditional knowledge of the rainforest with Western technology to conserve forests and maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions, which include profound knowledge of the forest ecosystem and medicinal plants. Helping them is the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), a nonprofit organization working with indigenous people to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests.