Foto: The white-eyed parakeet (Psittacara leucophthalmus) is a small green Neotropical parrot. Least concern on IUCN Redlist. According to the IUCN, this bird has been heavily trafficked since 1981.

Discover: A Threatened Environmental Jewel – off the beaten path: The Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot. Post Extractivism. Beyond Sustainable

Permatree Superfoods will export plant based foods as added value SUPERFOODS directly grown, selected, transformed and packed – all with-in the productive territory – in Zamora-Chinchipe, located south east, Ecuador, Latin America. The fact that the entire operation will be in this space, will generate a real added value in this, off the beaten path,  territory. For the people, planet, and also for profit. This is also known as the triple bottom line framework, to evaluate the performance in a broader perspective to create greater business value. Also known as triple impact social-enterprise.

In this article we will analyze the environmental biodiversity hotspot and the impact of plant based foods as well as the extractive mining and oil industry in regards to the very unique environment which still remains mostly uncovered. 

Did you know that Zamora-Chinchipe, which is part of the great amazon basin, is also home to a biodiversity ecosystem very unique on the entire planet earth? 

It’s one of the very last existing eco-corridors between the once great amazon basin and the andee mountain range of Latin America. A neotropical mountain rain forest is scientifically outstanding. But logistically highly challenging working place, combining steep terrain, 10-12 humid months and un unparalleled vegetation density and growth speed, from the ground layer up to the canopy.

Drone-photo: PermaTree in Ecuador - Jungle Canopy. Neotropical Mountain Rain Forest at Permatree in Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador
Drone-photo: PermaTree in Ecuador – Jungle Canopy. Neotropical Mountain Rain Forest at Permatree in Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot


Permatree Superfoods is located with-in the most biodiverse region of the world, the Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot. This region is so biologically diverse, that it is hard to comprehend. The diversity is mainly due to its geographic position (on the Equator) and the difference in elevation, climate and rainfall created by the mountains. The Tropical Andes is the most biologically diverse of all the hotspots and contains about one-sixth of all plant life on the planet, including 30,000 species of vascular plants. It has the largest variety of amphibians with 981 distinct species, of birds with 1,724 species, of mammals at 570 species, and takes second place after the Mesoamerica Hotspot for reptile diversity at 610 species.

PermaTree Monitoring Flora and Fauna Biodiversity via iNaturalist - Global wildlife observation network
PermaTree Monitoring Flora and Fauna Biodiversity via iNaturalist – Global wildlife observation network

PermaTree Monitoring Flora and Fauna Biodiversity via iNaturalist


Global wildlife observation network – iNaturalist is used by citizens and scientists to monitor species presence and distribution. It also helps with identification – it is common to upload a photo and wait for the iNaturalist community to identify it. The iNaturalist system has also been ‘trained’ to identify species in photos.
Permatree Ecuador iNaturalist monitoring flora and fauna profile  https://www.inaturalist.org/users/1477175

Drone-photo: Valle de las Luciérnagas and Rio Zamora, Ecuador. Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot
Drone-photo: Valle de las Luciérnagas and Rio Zamora, Ecuador. Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot

Sweet Water

The Andes Mountains are South America’s water towers, serving as the water source for the main stems of both the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, the largest and third-largest rivers in the world measured by discharge. These rivers provide water for numerous cities, including four national capitals.

Natural ecosystems also help retain soil, to help in maintaining soil fertility for agriculture and to prevent landslides on steep slopes during periods of high rainfall. These ecosystems also help regulate climates by forming critical components of the water cycle and limiting the degree to which solar radiation heats the air. In cloud forests, trees intercept cloudborne mist, which condenses and runs off into streams and rivers. Supporting services of the Tropical Andes include pollination of crops and soil formation. The hotspot also has an important role to play in carbon storage to regulate the global carbon budget and buffer against climate change. Its forests store 5.4 billion tonnes of carbon, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 1 billion cars. 

Wildlife fauna Blue-gray tanager (Thraupis episcopus)
Photo: Wildlife fauna Blue-gray tanager (Thraupis episcopus)

Threatened Biodiversity Hotspot

Despite its rich biodiversity, the hotspot also ranks as one of the most severely threatened areas in the tropics, with a large portion of its landscape having been transformed. The northern Andes, with the fertile inter-Andean valleys of Colombia and Ecuador, are the most degraded as a result of agriculture and urbanization. Forests remain in the higher and more inaccessible areas. In contrast, extensive forests and grasslands remain in Peru and Bolivia, as agriculture and grazing is less intense. Even in those countries, however, recent road improvements and expansion are resulting in forest conversion and fragmentation.

Adaptive Contour Access Path - Sustainable Agriculture principles and Tropical Permaculture framework at Permatree in Ecuador.
Adaptive Contour Access Path – Sustainable Agriculture principles and Tropical Permaculture framework at Permatree in Ecuador.

Regenerative Alternatives to Extractivism

Being aware of this Biodiversity Hotspot, is one of our initial motivations with Permatree Superfoods S.A. to develop, not just sustainable, but real regenerative alternatives to the classic Extractive Industries of mining and oil. By creating shade-grown agroforestry polycultures of tropical fruits and transforming them on-site in added-value products. Based on sustainable agriculture principles and Tropical Permaculture framework to design solutions based on three ethical principles: care of the Earth; care of people; share surplus to reinvest toward these ends.

The Carbon Footprint of the Food Supply Chain. Chart from Our World in Data relies on data from the largest meta-analysis of food systems in history.
Infographic: The Carbon Footprint of the Food Supply Chain. Chart from Our World in Data relies on data from the largest meta-analysis of food systems in history. Source: https://ourworldindata.org | CC-BY Hannah Ritchie

Environmental Impact of Plant Based Foods

A plant-based diet requires less water to produce the food as it suppresses all animal based products. In addition to consuming a lot of water to produce meat, livestock farming also pollutes water sources because the waste produced by the livestock ends up in waterways. Eating plant foods – instead of eating animals who eat plants – cuts out the enormous environmental burden that goes along with animal agriculture. Raising animals for food introduces a major extra step of waste relative to the efficiency of us just eating the plant foods directly.

Environmental catastrophe regarding Oil

The current situation in the Amazon exemplifies this. In Ecuador, several indigenous nations accused Chevron of perpetrating a massive environmental catastrophe and have been fighting for years to get any kind of compensation. They had their waterways polluted again when two oil pipelines burst just weeks after Ecuador declared a national lockdown over the pandemic. The primary source of food and water for 27,000 indigenous people is now polluted by nearly 16,000 barrels of petroleum. It isn’t just Ecuador. The Colombian border town of Leticia, a main commercial hub for many indigenous groups, has the highest per-capita death rate in the country, according to figures from Colombia’s Health Ministry.

Environmental catastrophe regarding extraction mining 

Mining is always highly controversial. Mining is often in conflictive areas, where countless human rights violations have been documented, and where the communities have battled against the development of the mines. Mining is a direct threat to the headwaters of the Amazon River and the overall biodiversity found in this region of the Andes. Scientists have identified the Condor mountain range as Ecuador’s most biodiverse ecosystem; it contains perhaps the richest flora in all of South America.

The UN recently concluded that resource extraction is responsible for 80% of biodiversity loss and 50% of the world’s carbon emission.

The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization

Like many developing nations, Ecuador’s desire to diversify its economy and shed its dependence on oil by tapping into its mineral wealth is at odds with social and legal forces seeking to prevent inevitable environmental damage and exploitation brought on by mining. Mining in rainforests: it devastates ecosystems and communities to amass wealth in the hands of a few, leaving gaping wounds that leach toxins into the biosphere for centuries. This is totally unnecessary to meet the real economic needs of civilization. Minerals for industry can be provided without destroying our life-support systems (IUCN-WWF, 1999).

Disturbing fact - to produce a single Gold Ring (200 grams weight), you will need to move 20 tons of rock and soil. Much of this waste carries with it mercury and cyanide, which are used to extract the gold from the rock.
Infographic: Disturbing fact – to produce a single Gold Ring (200 grams weight), you will need to move 20 tons of rock and soil. Much of this waste carries with it mercury and cyanide, which are used to extract the gold from the rock. Source: www.earthworks.org

Another interesting but highly disturbing fact – Earthworks estimates that, to produce enough raw gold to make a single gold ring (200 grams) , you will need to about move 20 tons of rock and soil. Much of this waste carries with it mercury and cyanide, which are used to extract the gold from the rock. The resulting erosion clogs streams and rivers and can eventually taint marine ecosystems far downstream of the mine site.

Fauna: Chestnut-eared araçari (Pteroglossus castanotis) at Permatree in Ecuador
Wildlife: Fauna – Chestnut-eared araçari (Pteroglossus castanotis) at Permatree in Ecuador

Environmental-Impact goals of Permatree Superfoods

  • 80’000 bamboo plants for reforestation on 400 family farms will absorb 5.586 t of CO2 annually
  • 800 conservation of critical freshwater micro-basins
  • 400 flora and fauna conservation areas for enhancing the mega biodiversity
  • 400 anaerobic bio-digesters to activate microorganisms in the soil
  • 400 dry toilets
  • Sustainable agriculture focused on polycultures with unique-origin micro-lot

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