What is your mission?
Restauration of degraded soils through agroforestry, because the soil is the basement of our food and therefore essential for the future of the next generations.
Tell us about an exciting project you are working on that you would like to share with the world.
I’m experimenting with agroforestry in the Andes of Bolivia. Agroforestry includes crops between perennial species to imitate the natural process of succession. It works in all ecosystems and allows at the same time to produce organic food and restore degraded soils. Men only need to know, which species is a beneficial neighbour for another and how to manage the consortium to get harvest. An example is how to combine different species so it will be beneficial for the food and forage production.
Initiated from a degraded soil, typical for the Andean Valleys, are implemented brushes and trees in between or around fields with crops, forage or fruit trees. The leaves do mulch the soil and will decompose to humus. So, the soil begins to restore, getting a diversified and rich life of microorganisms. Fertile soil will develop healthy plants. The accompanying species need to be pruned periodically. The pruning material is transformed to biochar, which is storing CO2 and is activated with input from the own farm to Terra preta. The pores of Terra preta have nutrients in readiness for the crops and fruit trees, will be multiplying the biota and with this increase the soil fertility for hundreds of years. Thereby a degraded soil is changing to a living soil with a huge diversity of organisms and plenty of nutrients for organic food production. In addition, production of agroforestry products with Terra preta means climate farming because biochar is a carbon sink, which reduces the impact of climate change.
What does it mean to you to be an environmental laureate?
In my opinion, this means even more responsibility to realize activities which assure the future of the next generations.
What are the top three issues you would like to address?
Humanity must recognize the importance of every single tree and of the remaining forests, seeking to involve perennial species in the productive systems as nature is demonstrating, to protect the resources soil, water, air and mitigate climate change.
Industrial food production is destroying soil all over the word and food is sold without considering the reality of the price humanity is paying for the loose of fertile soil, clean water and functional ecosystems.
Farmers need to receive more attention, support and fair prizes for their production in order to be able and interested in producing organic food for all people in the world; which mostly is a task for global, national and local politics.
What are the benefits of being part of a bigger organization and collaboration such as the European Environment Foundation?
For me, the benefits will be: (a) networking; so I will get (b) first-hand information about environmental issues; this will (c) enable me to do my activities with more efficiency; it may as well give the chance of (d) do lobby work, which is very important, because if the frame conditions are not supporting activities in benefit of the environment, there is little interest to realize it, or even it is impossible.
How would you encourage young people to get involved with the movement?
Young people are getting involved in the topic of environmental issues by practice. So, they must be invited to spend a certain time with nature, observing healthy ecosystems and learning how food is produced in harmony with nature and by protecting natural resources.
What is your ambition for the next 10 years?
Mollesnejta – Centre of Andean Agroforestry will be able to receive much more people interested in agroforestry and organic food production, in restoring degraded soils and mitigating climate change, beneath them some people who are key-persons in politics, so condition for food production in agroforestry systems will be more and more beneficial. This will increase the interest in workshops to learn about agroforestry and the universities will do investigation in this subject area.