July 12, 2018

Rainforest Meetings: Not for the faint hearted

What’s the longest meeting you’ve got today? A couple of hours feel like a lifetime, especially on a hot Friday afternoon.

How about a five and a half hour long meeting? Or eight hours?

Cool Earth’s Head of Programme, Tracy, has recently returned from the Asháninka partnership in the Peruvian Amazon. Cool Earth works with four different communities in the Asháninka, and each was due their annual meeting with Cool Earth. The meetings are for the community to discuss what Cool Earth funds had been spent on that year, and to plan budgets for the coming year. Most importantly, it’s when the forest protection agreement is signed. A lot to pack in. Add competing priorities from up to 13 annexe villages per community, and having to translate everything twice (first into Spanish from Asháninka, then into English), and you can see why meeting times quickly add up.

Tracy’s record is eight hours and 22 minutes. In 30 degrees heat and 100% humidity, that’s quite impressive. How does your air-conditioned office feel now?

April 2018 meetings meetings, April 2018

There’s no rest after the meeting, either. With limited time on the ground, the team have to make sure all communities are reached. Getting anywhere in the Amazon is tough and when you’re bringing all your equipment with you it’s even tougher. Tracy and her team got stranded on the way to Parijaro when the river wasn’t high enough to use their boat. They ended up dragging the boat full of equipment along the stones and rocks. “Roads” are little more than dirt tracks which are constantly recovered with plants.

Boat, Meetingscutivireni, meetings

The challenging journeys and epic meetings are worth it though. Witnessing ex-logger Huber sign a forest protection agreement in his new role as community president of Tsimi is a special moment for Tracy and makes the whole trip worthwhile.

But for the next couple of weeks, she’s declining requests for meetings. 


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