Reviving ecosystems and empowering communities: Pachamama Raymi in the high Andes of Peru

Pachamama Raymi

We are happy to provide you with insights into the projects we’re involved with, and we are excited to introduce you to Pachamama Raymi, located in the Peruvian Andes. In the native Quechua language of the region, Pachamama Raymi means ‘celebration of Mother Earth’, a name that summarises the essence of this initiative: breaking through the vicious circle of environmental degradation and rural poverty, achieving that rural communities and families improve their living conditions and manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner. To understand more about this project and the collaboration with Treevive we spoke to Willem van Immerzeel, the founder of Pachamama Raymi, and Maria Varela, the Technical Manager at Pachamama Raymi.

An environmental mission

Before we started to work in these communities, the mountains were completely degraded, with almost bare soil and there were nearly no trees. Everything was dry, and the communities faced economic hardships. There was no income to support education, which made things more challenging for the people in the region” tells Willem van Immerzeel, founder of Pachamama Raymi. Willem has a lot of experience in nature restoration and community development across various Andean countries. He expresses a deep-rooted drive to combat environmental degradation and poverty, that’s why he initiated Pachamama Raymi in 2008, with the motivation to revitalise the Peruvian highlands in the Cusco region, led by the communities that call these mountains home. Forest plantations with both native and exotic trees in these barren mountains hold the potential to reverse soil degradation, restore fertility, and improve the livelihoods of local communities.

Over the years Pachamama Raymi has grown out into a flourishing NGO that targets impoverished and environmentally degraded regions in the highlands across the Cusco region of Peru, focusing on planting trees across at least 13,300 ha of land until 2029, with the ambition to continue indefinitely. There is an ambitious timeline for the project implementation, involving over 32 communities spread across five districts region. “At Pachamama Raymi, our strong commitment lies in the challenge of revitalizing our environment while uplifting rural families. This commitment is not just in words but is intensely reflected in our actions. We want to unite communities, leading their transformation towards prosperity, all while breathing new life into the ecosystems that enclose them”, Willem passionately explains.

The partnership between Pachamama Raymi and local farming families contributes to social, economic, and environmental change. The intention is to plant approximately 1100 trees per hectare per family annually, resulting in 1900 hectares of forest plantations per year. The trees provide a future source of timber and edible mushrooms and will improve the severely degraded soils, allowing native ecosystems to thrive once again. Maria Varela, Technical Manager of Pachamama Raymi, highlights the social impact at the heart of their work: “One of the unique characteristics of this project is that it doesn’t solely concentrate on the financial aspect. The true value lies in the non-financial contributions, namely labour, effort, and time from the local communities. This is where the project has a profound impact, addressing motivation, self-esteem, and inter-learning among rural families. Pachamama Raymi provides invaluable support to these communities, even assisting them in legal matters, offering guidance, and ensuring they are part of the project’s journey” she explains.

Carbon Credits

Since October 2022, Treevive and Pachamama Raymi have started a strategic partnership to enhance the feasibility of climate financing for forest conservation and restoration (carbon credits) in the project. The involvement of Treevive started with the implementing activities at the start of the project intervention before significant carbon benefits have been achieved. Treevive is currently providing the prefinance for the technical assistance delivered by Form International to develop the project’s carbon element, and is going to market the generated carbon credits, a pivotal financial pillar for the project’s success. The potential for sustained advancement through carbon credits powers the NGO’s optimism, strengthening their dedication to the cause. Maria expresses her excitement for this project and for the opportunity to collaborate with Treevive: “This partnership creates new possibilities, and I’m thrilled to be part of a project that not only aligns with my values but also offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with Treevive and the market of carbon credits. My dedication and passion shine through as I contribute positively to the environment while learning from other experts in the field”.

A unique approach for a sustainable future

The uniqueness of Pachamama Raymi’s approach comes to the forefront. Unlike many carbon credit initiatives that focus on tropical forest areas, this project concentrates on the highlands (Sierra) region. Areas that were once forested but have suffered degradation over time due to timber harvesting and cattle grazing. Willem and Maria underline the project’s success as a model that can be replicated in other countries, with a spotlight on the Sierra’s promising future in carbon credit initiatives.

Collaboration emerges as a central theme in, stressing the importance of partnering with local governments and NGOs to drive the project forward. The need for large-scale financing and scalability is important, reinforcing the project’s potential to leave a significant impact. Pachamama Raymi acknowledges their commitment to knowledge-sharing through various platforms, including a dedicated website, social media channels, and videos. This communication strategy is pivotal for showcasing the Sierra’s potential and the various benefits of carbon credit financing.

Through the project’s unique approach, focus on financial viability, and dedication to holistic change, Pachamama Raymi serves as a shining example of how sustainable practices can revitalize ecosystems, uplift communities, and make an enduring impact on our world!

Please find more information about this project on our website and the website of Pachamama Raymi.