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Proyecto Ecomadera: Rio Canande, Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador Update on the Ecomadera Project ● July 12, 2006 Pinchot Institute for Conservation Peter Pinchot, Senior Fellow ● email@example.com ● www.pinchot.org
Ecuador Forest Cover, 2000
Deforestation to the north of Cristobol Colon, land on its way to cattle pasture or oil palm plantations.
Esmeraldas Province: Cristobol Colon communities are adjacent to the Cotachachi Cayapas Reserve and form an important buffer forest. From Cristobol Colon to the Mache Chindul Reserve to the west was largely forested in 1990. Now this is a vast sea of oil palm and cattle pastures. Reserve Cristobol Colon Reserv e
Cristobol Colon Red = Deforestation in Esmeraldas Province over a 10 year period. In that decade, 36% of forest was lost to agriculture.
Cristobol Colon: Buffer forest for the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve
Peace Corps volunteer headed to visit a farm that has just completed a new legal forest management plan. There are now 18 families practicing legal sustainable forestry on their fincas.
Rapid forest clearing and conversion to pasture leads to erosion and soil degradation.
This family has just purchased the 50 hectare finca that was being cleared. They are completing a legal forest management plan and are making the transition to sustainable forest management. The deciding factor in their choice was 60% higher prices paid by Ecomadera for legal wood
Primary forest that the landowner was going to clear for pasture is now being managed as a permanent production forest, with a harvest of only 3 to 5 trees per hectare every 15 to 20 years.
A recent clearing on its way to becoming a cacoa plantation
Six months ago, Ecomadera led a training session on reduced impact logging. Now community loggers are cutting logs into cants. The cants are taken to the community wood processing facility where they are dimensioned to product sizes on a Woodmizer sawmill. This results in a much greater yield for each tree harvested
Recent training session on cable extraction by professional forester and Shuar community technicians
Chainsaw driven cable system removes cants with less disturbance to forest than skid trails. Cable extraction dramatically reduces the impact of timber harvest on the residual forest stands, on forest soils, and on stream ecology.
Woodmizer sawmill cutting cants into final dimensions. A narrow kerf bandsaw blade greatly increases yield from each log compared to the normal practice of chain saw milling in the forest
A recent breakthrough in wood drying (which is the most important factor in producing high-value wood products) was this very simple method of pre-drying. The difficulty is that we are operating in the rainforest climate with over four meters of rain per year and air relative humidity generally over 85%. This new system of air drying – stacking the boards in neat piles with stickers between the boards and a simple corrugated tin roof – is consistently bringing the wood down to 25% moisture within a month and with almost no defects. The next step is using a wood-heat kiln to drop the moisture content to 8% moisture for US or Ecuadorian highland markets.
With much help from a specialist from Oregon State University, Ecomadera finally learned how to dry wood consistently to 8% moisture content without producing defects. We had to abandon solar heating due to excessive cloud cover. And we had to revamp the kiln considerably. But now a two- week kiln run brings wood down to 8% moisture content every time. To the left: loading the kiln. Below: using a small oven and a balance beam scale to measure wood moisture in kiln samples.
Once the wood is dried, we need to keep the moisture content at 8% until the wood comes out of inventory and is sold. This bodega under construction is the first balloon frame building in the region. The community built trusses and constructed the building. The advantages of balloon construction are faster construction, greater strength, and far less wood used.
Finished bodega: A small amount of wood heat keeps the wood at 8% indefinitely. Wood drying is now an inexpensive technology that can be transferred to other community projects in Ecuador and Latin America.
Dried wood being stored inside the bodega which was completed in May, 2006. Ecomadera can finally sell legal wood that is well-dried and properly dimensioned!! At this time, Ecomadera is the only vender in Ecuador that offers legally produced and well –dried wood products.
Above: Carpentry shop. Below finishing planer. Above: Planer molder for flooring Below: New production table saw
First large product sale: a house under construction in Cristobol Colon that will be used for the new Training Center. This building will house members of other communities while they are staying in Cristobol Colon for training sessions and apprenticeship in forestry and wood processing.
Kitchen doors Windows Above: Interior door To left: Bench Doors, windows, and bench for the house
Second large project: To construct and install alll the finished millwork (floors, windows, doors, cabinets) on a new house near Quito. Here moisture content of wood is critical and the client has discriminating standards
Community Accountant and Ecomadera Marketer receiving first large check for sale of products outside the community ($13,000) The client in the Ecomadera shop discussing wood species and finishes. The client, Monica Zuquilanda, works at USAID in Ecuador and has been a funder for the project.
Bill Leipa (on the left) is a new Peace Corps volunteer with 25 years experience running a small cabinet making shop in Tennessee. Bill has taken on the role of training community carpenters to do very high quality carpentry. Here he is talking to a utilities contractor also working on finishing the house.
Windows have been built in Cristobol Colon and are now being framed in to the house
Tongue and groove hardwood flooring was produced in Cristobol Colon. In this photo in late June it was waiting at the construction site. Now (July 12 th ) the flooring is being installed throughout the house.
Every opening is a different size in this house. So the paneled doors are being constructed and finished on the site. Ecomadera is making the quality as high as possible on this job. This will be the portfolio for selling to other highly discriminating clients in Andean cities.
Recent training session led by Mark Knaebe of the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Lab. Mark trained the community on penetrating wood finishes that are very durable. Mark showed how to use natural pigments to stain wood and make it easier to market lesser known species. Mark also taught simple tests for determining structural properties of different wood species. Guadaripo without and with stain and finish Mark Knaebe
In the last six months there have been major breakthroughs in marketing. Garrett Siegers was hired a year ago and has made many marketing trips throughout Ecuador. A recent trip to Colineal, Ecuador’s largest furniture manufacturer, resulted in strong interest to buy 30 cubic meters of legal, dried, planed boards per month. This is the total current production. Colineal has no other supplier in Ecuador who can offer them a similar product. Marketing: Recent trip to Colineal Furniture factory
A few of the recent marketing contacts with architects and designers: Architect/designer in Quito (photo to left) interested in doors and moldings – potential lead for 60 doors initially and up to 1,000 doors for a large project in Esmeraldas. Architect for gated communities in Guayaquil, wants interior and exterior doors for high-end houses in a gated community. Designer near Quito uses very modern designs for doors. Has given Ecomadera several designs, gratis, and will carry Ecomadera doors in her salesroom where many architects visit monthly. Professor at Universidad de San Francisco near Quito is about to build a house and wants to buy millwork from Ecomadera. Photo: a recent marketing trip with Larry Swan, market consultant and mentor to the project from the USDA Forest Service: left to right – 1) Quito architect, 2) Larry Swan, and 3) Garrett Siegers, Ecomadera marketer. Cook woods in Klamath Falls, Oregon, wants two containers per year of legal dried boards and cants of exotic species, as well as other materials for craftsman such as black palm, spalted wood, and tree stumps.
90 cm 205 cm Entrance door 90 x 205 Classic curved top style Ecuadorian exterior entrance door available with elegant Danish Finish. Rails of Copal with Mascarey panels Rails of Guadaripo with Chontillo panels Rails of Azufre with Peine de Mono panels Rails of Anime with Mascarey panels (Part of draft of Ecomadera product catalog)
Forest Cover map showing location of Kichwa communities along the Napo and Arajuno Rivers in Napo Province. The Kichwa are in the zone of rapid deforestation impacting a very large region of primary forest.
Recent trip visiting Kichwan communities along Rio Arajuno and listening to their interests in forest management and establishing a wood products community business.
Meetings in five communities up the river. Strong interest in adapting the Ecomadera model.
The Quichua present an analysis of the costs of producing wood versus the prices paid by existing illegal markets.
Wood raft floating down the river to the port for sale in the illegal market
Kichwa children put on a dance after making their costumes that morning.
Next steps Start training community foresters in Kichwa communities Begin making individual forest management plans In both Ecomadera and Kichwa communities, develop a watershed scale participatory natural resource management plan for all the communities. This plan will include a landscape conservation and rural development strategy that is developed and adopted by the communities and local and regional governments agencies. Expand the scope of the project to include community reserves, reforestation projects, agroforestry including cacao and fruit production, in addition to the current focus on sustainably managed production forests. Enter into ecological service payment markets to help pay for the costs of community reserves and reforestation projects. Build a wood production facility for the Kichwa and a cacao value-added production facility in both the Kichwan and Ecomadera communities.
It’s not all work and no play.
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