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Dressing the Mountains in Green Project, Agua Santa, Ecuador

A reforestation and permaculture project in Agua Santa, a Kichua-speaking village in Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

View our Progress Report Presentation

The Pato Reforestation Project is a collaborative effort of the Living Bridges Foundation, the Tian Gong International Foundation, and the Fundacion OSA of Costa Rica. The objective is to fund the development, supplies (including trees), and training for the local efforts to restore the forest near Agua Santa, Ecuador.

Agua Santa Community, Ecuador High Andes Reforestation Project Urcuta Virdi Chura-chi-cunchi –“ Dressing the Mountains in Green Project”. Project Coordinator Agua Santa: Juan Patricio Pilco

his project proposal seeks financial support for the reforestation of approximately 30,000 acres, Agua Santa Community, High Andes region, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador, So. America.

History of Agua Santa Community Region

Approximately 50-150 years ago through the process of colonization and oppression of the Quechua speaking indigenous people, many high Andes Provinces, including Chimborazo, were essentially deforested through agricultural burning and over-grazing by non-native animals introduced by Spanish Colonial Land Barons. In the Agua Santa Community, for example, the people underwent the destruction of their ancestral Inca terraces thus decimating their native style of agriculture which had protected and preserved the environments and yielded abundant stores annually for centuries. The lands of the people were literally stolen and repossessed by the Barons. Gradually, through extreme frugality, hardship, and diligent work, the people saved money from the raising and sale of animals to purchase back their homelands from the government.Today the Agua Santa Community lands are a testament to the fulfillment of the dreams and work of their ancestors.

Project Description

Since April 2008, utilizing seed money from several donors, including Berlin Tian Gong Institute, Tian Gong International Foundation and Living Bridges Foundation, an initial parcel land was purchased by Patricio. On this site a large greenhouse or tree nursery was constructed by volunteers. The nursery construction includes an irrigation system. 10,000 bags were filled with seedling trees which are now growing well! The capacity of the nursery is 50,000 trees. From the small initial nursery, 3000 seedling trees were given to community members to be utilized for wind block, shade and boundary line planting! In addition, Patricio was able to procure 6,000 trees from a local government institute promoting reforestation. These trees have been also planted in the lands surrounding the Agua Santa Community as encouragement and to provide visibility for this project.

Chimboraza from Piloc's land
Aqua Santa vivero Water catchement Aqua Santa arid lands

Progress Report

Dear Donna, Master Tianying and all the friends of Tian Gong that are supporting our efforts.

We just finished a massive reforestation session. I struggled hard with the provincial municipality, and finally they donated 6000 trees and we put 3000 Aliso (Alder) trees from the nursery. The work session were the past three Sundays, we had over 50 community members and over 35 people from the local university of Chimborazo university participated on one of the sessions. It was the group of law students, because of a friend who’s studying to be a lawyer who likes our work, and he promoted it among his students and they joined us on one of the work sessions.

In total we planted over 9000 native trees for reforestation. These were planted in the high dry hills surrounding the community. It was a beautiful thing yet very hard. We are praying the rains will come soon but it has been quite dry, never the less the trees were all planted with good size and well rooted into loamy soil, so we have faith that the great majority will take to their new homes, to help us all have a better home.

It has been hard because were all volunteers and the economy is very low here in Ecuador, it is difficult to make the basic lively hood and also volunteer so many hours to this important vision, and I am happy that we have been able to accomplish this first reforestation phase. We still have many trees in the nursery and we will organize more reforestation sessions in the months to come.

I know money is not and ends just a means, and we are happy that we have used all the funds that you have sent us towards the cause of reforestation. Never the less it makes it hard to continue without funds. Hopefully we can get more funds together to continue this work.

The community wants to help but they are asking for fruit trees so they can plant near their houses. If we can get them fruit trees then they will be more motivated to help when we accomplish the reforestation.

I have been promoting on many levels the importance to reforest the mountains. Many people think were wasting our time, but at least they are not going against us, they are letting us plant the mountains and more people are seeing the importance and helping. We have to continue motivating the community and the people. It would be great to be able to give them fruit trees in exchange for their volunteer help in the reforestation. It is amazing to see how the people are living, and we ourselves are subsisting pretty much entirely from our agriculture.

I am currently trying to promote among a local government branch working increased involvement in our reforestation program. Some friends who work for the government in reforestation programs have visited our nursery and have complimented our efforts. I am encouraging them on ways to improve the outreach, environmental education and to help inspire the communities to take more action in reforestation projects. There exists hundreds of thousands of acres of barren lands that once in the past were forested. To dress the mountains in green is our vision. As a means to replenish the earth with the clouds and mist that the trees attract, creating habitat for songbirds and animals and to recuperate these lands and soils. Reforestation over the long run will transform the entire region into a much more prosperous location. We are pioneering an awakening of environmental awareness in the region around this issue of reforestation with native species as a vital and important action that needs to be taken.

Right now we are working on fixing a water canal that has broken and this has occupied a lot of time. My family has had to go on many long day work sessions with the community high in the mountains to fix the water canal.

I want to share that I am very very happy with the progress we are having. And we have taken things to a solid level with solid advancements. Now over the next months we must focus efforts to raise money for our livelihood. Don Juan is educating his children and we live a very modest life but things are always more expensive in Ecuador. Now we are focusing on agriculture and are producing tomatos, organic potatoes, white onions, and garlic and bell tomatoes for sale at the local market.

After the incidence of the loss of our sisters, it has affected the family a lot and especially our mother. Never the less we are all calm now and advancing in good faith, every day thanking God all mighty for all the blessings we receive every day, and for more patience and spiritual virtues and strength.

Thank you for your support and for the positive energy you have sent us that we feel. Thank you from all our hearts for your solidarity, one I will never betray. In dedication to sincerity and to the high and good path of service,

Your friend in dedication and honor,

Juan Patricio Hipo Pilco

From the village of Maria Auxiliadora, Riobamba Ecuador

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Next Phase

This Andean Region, according to a report filed by United Nations has the highest top soil loss on any measured on Earth! The rebuilding of ancient terraces will not only serve to begin restoration of soil loss, enrich and multiply agricultural potential, but also serve as a proto-type and teaching model for other communities in the region. Project Component includes, but not limited to hiring of a small tractor to; implement swells and provide soil replenishment in critical areas where soil is most depleted and rebuilding of ancient agricultural terraces. Estimated Cost: $ 8,200 US

Development of Mira Loma arqueo-astronomical look-out point and a Puruhua Cultural Center and eco-tourist hotel for community-based ecotourism program. Developing and promoting a Center for the teaching of traditional values and ancient methodologies will further sponsor the program of reforestation and water catchments in neighboring communities as well as the value of supporting these efforts over time. The building of a community-shared eco-tourism program including hotel will provide for sharing and networking with sponsors and earth stewards from Ecuador and foreign countries. Estimated Cost: 7,500 US

The Living Bridges Foundation • P.O.Box 667  • Aptos CA 95001 USA • Contact us

©1999-2009 Living Bridges Foundation

Updated: May 26, 2011



Pato Planning Meeting

Project Planning Meeting

Tree Seedlings

Pilco Family

Jeanette and Family


Maira Pilco

Tending Plants

Nursery Plants