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GreenWood trains artisans to make high-quality wood products, adding value to forest resources and creating incentives to protect biodiversity.
We foster self-sufficiency by promoting sustainable forest management, the use of lesser-known species, inspired designs, skilled hand-tool production and access to markets.
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Have Chainsaw—Will Travel
Tree Sculpture in the Peruvian Amazon
Brad Sells creates exquisite wood sculpture out of roots, stumps and branches—the parts of a tree that the rest of the world calls firewood or compost. He has traveled widely in search of unique expressions of “tree spirit” waiting to be released with his chainsaw: mulberry crotch wood from a tree in Georgia O’Keefe’s yard, salvaged Hawaiian koa and exotic pink ivory, royal wood of the Zulu tribe in South Africa. In early June, GreenWood brought Brad and his chainsaw to the Palcázu Valley of Peru where we have been training indigenous Yanesha carvers for the last three years. The six Amazonian villages where we work are nestled between three protected areas, near the site of a renowned USAID experiment that broke new ground in the 1980s with its “strip-shelterbelt” harvest and transformation of a wide variety of tropical tree species. (This project led to one of the first exports of tropical timber from a sustainably managed source and eventually to the founding of GreenWood. But that’s another story…)
GreenWood Identifies New Plant Species
It is estimated that more than half of the millions of species on earth live in tropical rainforests, and many—if not most—have yet to be discovered. Economically valuable plants are usually the first to be identified. But last year, GreenWood forestry consultant, Alex Karney, was surprised to find that a familiar epiphytic vine, which has been harvested for decades by local artisans in the Nombre de Dios Mountains of Northern Honduras, had been misidentified. In the process, Alex had the rare opportunity to identify and name a new species, which we expect will open the door to more exciting discoveries.
Known locally as “mimbre,” Monstera maderaverde is an epiphyte whose roots are used by Honduran artisans to weave hats, baskets, furniture and sculpture for sale mainly in local markets. An epiphyte is a plant that spends some or all of its life cycle on another host. In this case, M. maderaverde begins its life rooted in the soil, but then seeks out a shaded environment, most often a tree. It appears to grow on anything, employing a “grappling” mechanism of small woody projections to attach itself to a supporting structure—such as a tree trunk—as it climbs. Because it is endemic to a relatively small, isolated region of Honduras, Monstera maderaverde has been overlooked by researchers…until now.
GreenWood Launches New Mahogany DNA Pilot
Jurassic Park: Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You?
by Alex Karney
From blockbuster movies to a variety of CSI-inspired crime shows, the use of genetics to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks has absorbed the popular imagination. In the 2002 Spiderman film, even Peter Parker was bitten by a genetically-modified spider, rather than the radioactive specimen that was fueled by 1960s nuclear paranoia. Such fantasies may be plausible enough to attract audiences, but they make it difficult to separate fiction from fact.
In reality, genome mapping is becoming much more accessible. The cost has fallen precipitously in the last decade, and the trend is expected to continue. What might this mean for tropical forest management?
MaderaVerde Chief: “Outstanding Forester of the Year”
MaderaVerde Executive Director Melvin Cruz was awarded the distinction of “Outstanding Forester of the Year” by his peers. At a ceremony held on May 29, 2010, in Siguatepeque, Honduras, the College of Professional Foresters of Honduras (COLPROFORH) recognized Melvin for his “excellent service in the field of forestry science.”
Melvin is a tireless and dedicated pioneer of the social forestry movement in Honduras and an inspiration to all who have seen him in action. GreenWood extends its hearty congratulations to Melvin and his family and to all of our friends and colleagues at Fundación MaderaVerde—GreenWood’s longstanding partner in Honduras—for this well-deserved recognition.
Melvin is shown (in the vest) at center, in the photo above, with a group of indigenous Pech para-technical foresters, trained by MaderaVerde in Santa María del Carbón, Olancho, Honduras.