Yachana Foundation: Promoting Sustainability Through Education

With administrative offices in the city of Quito, the Yachana Foundation is actively pursuing its mission to ‘achieve sustainability through education and conservation’. It is appropriate then that the foundation’s name is the indigenous Kichwa word meaning ‘a place for learning’. Working along with rainforest communities, the foundation aims to offer communities facilities for education and medical care, while developing sustainable agricultural practices and income generating alternatives that conserve Ecuador’s precious rainforest.

Supported by revenue from the Yachana Lodge and Center for Geotourism Training, Yachana Tours and Yachana Technology product sales, the Yachana Foundation has invested up to $6.2 million in projects in the Ecuadorian Amazon. These include the Mondaña Medical Clinic offering healthcare to Mestizo and Kichwa communities of the Upper Napo River; the opening of the Yachana Technical High School in 2005; the initiation of a program to assist subsistence farming families produce organic cacao; the construction of 21 schools; the creation of community banking systems; and the purchase of up to 4,300 acres of primary and secondary rainforest which is now certified by the Ecuadorian authorities as protected. Future goals include the opening of the Yachana Technical Training Center for high school graduates to obtain higher education. The building itself will serve as an example of sustainability as it will incorporate the latest in clean energy technology.

A founding member of the Planning Board for the Sumaco-Napo-Galeras National Park (a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), the Yachana Foundation’s protected land falls within the park’s buffer zone, where a rare species of Glass Frog was discovered in September 2006 by Global Vision International (GVI). Volunteers from GVI work on the reserve collecting data and assisting in conservation programs in local communities.

Considering the fact that deforestation in Ecuador is taking place at a rate of 1.2 percent annually, measures to promote conservation are a matter of urgency. Ecuador’s rate of deforestation is reportedly three times higher than that which is taking place in any other South American country, primarily due to unregulated logging, exploitation by oil companies, unsustainable agricultural practices and an ever increasing human population encroaching on natural areas. All these factors make the work of organizations such as the Yachana Foundation vital for the future.