Ysabel Calderón, 2023 Mountain Restoration Steward, preparing seedlings in the Sumak Kawsay nursery.

Restoring ecosystems through the power of community

Community is the key to mountain restoration, a photo essay

The legacy of our ancestors and of the Indigenous Peoples is to work in community, to practice the ayni or to live in reciprocity.

As Tayta Joel Herencia defined it: it is not me, it is us; this reflects the essence of “community,” where everyone has a gift, and together, we complement each other.

Sumak Kawsay also conveys this message of good living, existing in harmony with nature, and respecting the cycles of our Mother Earth, the Pachamama, and the beings that inhabit her. Among them are the native bees, who are a clear example of organization, work, discipline and gentleness.

Native bees on an Overo flower (Cordia lutea).

In previous months, together with the community, we have reforested some project areas. Thanks to the restoration fund we won thanks to the support of the Restoration Stewards program, by the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), we acquired more trays to prepare seedlings and other tools for our nursery, which already has a capacity of more than 1,500 seedlings. In the coming months, we will bring in more community members to continue reforesting together.

Huayrul seedlings (Erythrina smithiana).
Ysabel Calderón, 2023 Mountain Restoration Steward, preparing seedlings in the Sumak Kawsay nursery.
Left to right: Marcelino, Beata and Ysa reforest the mountain.

The president of the San Francisco de Asís rural community has recognized us for contributing to the conservation of native bees and other pollinators through ecosystem restoration. This motivates us to move forward in our work to conserve forests and agrobiodiversity, positively impacting our community.

We are managing to recover our ecosystems and our biodiversity, and this makes me immensely happy. I always dreamed of a forest where all beings are respected, regardless of their size, and this dream is coming true! I’m thankful that I can contribute to making this happen, and I’m also grateful to those who believe in the purpose of Sumak Kawsay and have joined the project to build a more conscious, healthy and sustainable world.

Recognition of Sumak Kawsay and members of the rural community of San Francisco de Asís, district of Salas, Lambayeque, for their outstanding work.

One of our biggest challenges is to raise awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators for forest conservation and food production. Fortunately, every achievement we have accomplished has allowed us to strengthen ties with the community and continue to work together. We hope that, over time, this awareness will cross borders, allowing us to work with more communities.

Seed collection for Sumak Kawsay’s ecosystem restoration project.
A native bee on a tomato blossom.

In the community assemblies, we have shared the work of Sumak Kawsay and the restoration project supported by YIL and the GLF. We have also held workshops on the importance of pollinators, in which members of the community of El Higuerón and more than 14 people from three other communities have participated; they will be part of the project to help restore more areas in the coming months.

We continue working as a community for the conservation of pollinators and forests!

Presentation of the ecosystem restoration project.
Members of El Higuerón community in San Francisco de Asís, participants in the Sumak Kawsay project.

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Supporting partners 2023

Supporting partners

The Restoration Stewards program provides funding, mentorship and training to deepen the impact of youth-led restoration projects. The year-long program is run by the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) under the banner of Generation Restoration to support and highlight the work of eight young restoration practitioners and their teams in 2023.

During the program, the Restoration Stewards and their teams are  supported to further develop their project and serve as ambassadors at both global and local levels. Globally, the Restoration Stewards share their journeys in a series of vlogs and blogs documenting their stories of inspiration and challenges and participate in different international events to showcase their work. Locally, they are sparking a restoration movement, mobilizing local communities and creating pathways to connect, share, learn, and act for livelihoods and landscapes.