Written by Molly Greenheart

Rainforest Artifacts

Rainforest Artifacts by Molly Greenheart

By: Ashley Collier, Communications Coordinator, Greenheart International

In the high jungle of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, amid the winding rivers and Andean peaks of the country’s Pasco Region, live communities of the indigenous Yanesha people. For two thousand years, they have called the rural villages of central Peru their home. Yanesha society has always been egalitarian, valuing peace and living in close communion with the natural world. They have long relied on the wisdom of their horticulturists to protect, utilize, and preserve the forests that housed and sustained them. They treasured the earth, and what it could not provide for them in full they grew skilled at forging by hand.

Upon the arrival of colonization and industry, Yanesha communities and traditions were met with hardship. Cherished land fell to commercial claims, and native resources in one of our globe’s most biodiverse regions became increasingly vulnerable to deforestation. For future generations, survival of the Yanesha and their lands would mean drawing on their artisanal prowess and making strides to practice commerce far beyond the boundaries of home.

Since 2001, Sobremesa by Greenheart’s artisan partner, PaTs (a name which translates roughly as earth in the Yanesha dialect), has worked to uplift the Yanesha people and preserve the forests on which they rely. By both ensuring the sustainable management of the region’s forests, and also providing fair and reliable wages for craftspeople, the joint efforts of PaTs and the Yanesha have placed the future of multiple Andean communities on steadier ground. Hand-carved from sustainably-harvested higuerilla wood, PaTs’ heirloom-quality goods tell the story of the rich heritage of their makers, and contribute to the conservation of one of our planet’s most ecologically valuable landscapes.

The relationship of the Yanesha and their forests remains a symbiotic one. Through time-honored artisanal techniques that use all parts of harvested trees–root, branch, and bark– people and planet have come together in the Peruvian Amazon to sustain each other’s legacies. With PaTs, Sobremesa by Greenheart is helping to protect the rainforest for future generations, one bowl at a time.

Learn more about how fair trade uplifts vulnerable communities around the globe at GreenheartShop.org.