Runa Foundation improves local livelihoods to conserve tropical biodiversity.
As a non-profit, Runa Foundation sees beyond supply chains and brings together the resources needed to create markets that, at their core, benefit farming families and the forest.
A diversified offering of high quality goods with third party certifications that add value, are the key tools farmers need to sustainably make money from their farms. Additionally, we support the creation of farmer cooperatives to strengthen local decision making processes and administer funds that communities invest in their own development.
Runa Foundation works with indigenous communities to develop business plans and generate capital to start their own sustainable businesses.
Farmer Association Development
Almost 3,000 families have launched 12 Fair Trade guayusa cooperatives, and over $120,000 has been placed in a Social Premium Fund to be used for community development projects.
Runa Foundation organizes quarterly meetings between farmers, non-profits, companies, and governments to discuss critical issues and opportunities effecting new value chains.
Indigenous farmers in the Amazon traditionally grow crops in forest gardens called “chacras” – biodiverse plots that include a wide variety of trees and plants. These forest gardens are traditionally designed for family subsistence, and not designed to grow cash crops. As a result, forest gardens are increasingly unable to compete with destructive cash crops or cattle.
We work with these farmers to plant and manage forest gardens with a variety of culturally, environmentally, and economically valuable species. By certifying forest gardens as organic and engaging the communities in conservation and landscape management, we are strengthening this foundation of Amazonian culture and reducing the need for farmers to degrade the forest.
We have partnered with the Yale School of Forestry, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, CUNY – Lehman College, and the Virginia Botanical Gardens to research and improve the management of native forest gardens.
LAND MANAGEMENT PLANNING
Runa Foundation works with over 180 indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon to create management plans and map out areas of conservation and sustainable agricultural production so that farmers have tools to conserve their forests.
In partnership with communities, we’ve donated over 115,000 new guayusa trees and timber species that have been planted on 550 hectares, and protected an additional 15,000 hectares of forest with guayusa buffer zones.
Runa Foundation works with indigenous groups in the Amazon to document and research their vast knowledge of medicinal plant uses.
Many modern illnesses cannot be cured with Western medicine, and we believe the Amazon may hold the answers. To the people of the Amazon, the rainforest is a living pharmacy and they have used medicinal plants to treat the sick for time immemorial. We believe that there are many cures yet to be discovered by Western medicine, in the knowledge held by healers of the Amazon.
Runa Foundation has built a state-of-the-art crop science laboratory to better understand Amazonian plants, potential new products, and best management practices to share with local farmers through our workshops.
Runa Foundation works with the Sapara people of Ecuador to document their quickly disappearing knowledge of local plants. As of 2015, there are only 575 Sapara left in the Amazon.
Runa Foundation works with traditional Shipibo medical practitioners and Western doctors to research medicinal plants in a scientific setting.