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CUZCO, Peru — The project involves men, women and children of all ages planting trees and cleaning up lakes and rivers and working to protect a region sacred to these descendants of the Incas.

The indigenous workers are being lead by Yachay Wasi, the “House of Learning” in Quechua, which is a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Peru. The advocates intend to plant one million native trees in the Circuit of Four Lakes region in the Peruvian Andes as part of a broader program that includes cultural as well as sustainable development efforts. Yachay Wasi has been a partner with the United Nations on a number of initiatives and has offices in Peru and the United States (New York).

The Trees for Life project began in January with the planting of 4,000 native trees around Laguna Acopia Lake, and in the surrounding villages of Acopia and Santo Domingo. Laguna Acopia is, along with Pomacanchi, Mosoqllacta and Pampamarca Lakes, the focus of the related Circuit of Four Lakes project which aims to restore and conserve these sacred bodies of water (which are the sources that feed into the Peruvian Amazon River). The next step in February included the planting of 2,000 more trees by local school children from the villages.

The ambitious plan has also involved gathering funding for the scientific study of the region done in 2004 and then education and environmental training of the mostly indigenous residents, as well as other projects put together by Yachay Wasi.

In an e-mail interview with Indian Country Today, Yachay Wasi President Luis Delgado Hurtado explained some of the background on both projects, why their success is so important and about other initiatives relating to environment and culture. Hurtado wrote from the organization’s home base in Cuzco province, Peru, his home region and whose main city was the capital of the Incan Empire.

For the full interview, go to:

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