Finding Sustainable Alternatives to Exploiting the Amazon Forest

“Amazon forest loss is driving species to extinction, aggravating global warming, and robbing people of unique medicines, foods, and other benefits,” says Dr. Campbell Plowden of the Center for Amazon Community Ecology (CACE).

In northern Peru, some native communities have in hardship illegally logged and burn forests to grow cash-crops. “Cutting and burning forests is often more profitable than conserving them,” says Campbell. However, these communities often want more sustainable income-generation and ways to strengthen their communities. The Center for Amazon Community Ecology work with people of the Peruvian Amazon to create an alternative.

Helping communities to sustainably harvest and market non-timber forest products supports cultural traditions and local economy and can relieve pressure to exploit the forest in more severe ways. Indigenous and traditional people in the regions in which CACE works collect non-timber forest products for food, medicine, construction, and other purposes.  In addition, CACE also supports reforestation and conservation.

“CACE has supported reforestation in my and many other fields in the community so it’s clear they understand the value of caring for and maintaining the forest.”  – Maria, an artisan from Brillo Nuevo 

The Center for Amazon Community Ecology works with over 200 artisan partners to sell jewelry made from tucumã and inajá palm nuts by the Tembé Indians of Brazil and various handicrafts made from chambira palm stems made by women in Jenaro Herrera, Peru on their Amazon Forest Store. They also produce fragrant essential oils by distilling copal tree resin and leaves from rosewood and other aromatic plants. These crafts sold are online through the store as well as at schools, craft fairs, churches, green expos, and music festivals. (The picture below is an artisan named Liria drying chambira palm fiber before dyeing it.)

The Center for Amazon Community Ecology has been a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation since 2016. Dr. Campbell Plowden is the Founder and Executive Director of CACE, which he started in 2006. CACE’s values of environmental preservation and education align strongly with the fair trade principles. By marketing and supporting the sustainability of non-timber forest products, CACE is also promoting indigenous traditions and techniques.

Learn more about the Center for Amazon Community Ecology and their programs on the CACE website. They are one of the many FTF members who are deeply committed to the fair trade principles and realizing them in unique and innovative ways. We also encourage you to explore what makes Fair Trade Federation members different or our list of FTF members.

Photo credit: Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Rachel-L-SpenceRachel L. Spence ( is the Fair Trade Federation’s Engagement Manager, responsible for communications, public engagement, and advocacy for fair trade principles and practices.