"What kind of times are they, when a talk about trees is almost a crime
because it implies silence about so many horrors?"
 Bertolt Brecht

jueves, 7 de junio de 2007

Dry forests (Part 6):Up the valley of the Salas River

Driving up the Valley of the Salas River, towards Lanchaco, the landscape changes drammatically. The higher we get, the greener the forest. We drive till the boundary with the cloud forest. Tilansias and Bromelias and occasional orchids are abundant. The tree with The flying tilansia beards and the red seeds is, I guess, a "hualtaco" tree (Loxopterigium huasango). Some one told us, that it's seed are the favorit food of the rare "pava aliblanca" (Penelope albipennis).

Dry forests (part 5): La Peña

La Peña is a big basin, a savannah like region, part of the Salas province, in the back country of Chiclayo. It is certainly a most fragile ecosystem. It's vegetation is here in it's majoriy, like in so many other regions of northwestern Peru, a remnant of the 1998 Phenomenon of El Niño, except for the capparis angulata, called "sapote", a tree which grows very slow, one could say, with almost no water, and is very appreciated for its wood to make handicrafts. Very common are also cactae, which form unique symbiosis with prosopis and capparis species, here especially the raimondi gigantae. Then those spiny trees with striking green stems, the Cercidium praecox, also Cordea Luthea (yes, it's "my" tree), with it's yellow flowers, beautifully contrasting with the aridity of the landscape, as well as Bursera graveolens, known as "Palo Santo", which spreads an incredible smell, like myrrh. For moments I couldn't help but feeling lost somewhere in the plains of Africa.

Now, should the agro-industrial project "Olmos", widly and wildly promised in the region, become a reality, La Peña, and with it, thousands of hectares of dry forest will be smashed and flattend by whole fleets of bulldozzers to give way to huge esparragus fields or artishock fields or paprika fields or whatever product is up in the market -whatever it may be, this mega project which shall cover 3 departements obeys to the patterns of distorted mentality of unsustainability. The responsibles calculate that the construction (mainly the building of a tunnel through the Andes to bring water from the Rivers Huancabamba, Tabaconas und Manchara to the coast) will take at least 10 years. The works have started 3 months ago. Once finished, there should be enough water, so they say, to irrigate 40'000 hectares, produce energy for 600 megawatts and create 80'000 jobs. Why is it, that these kind of mega-projects are so suspiscious? But then, in ten years a lot can happen...

miércoles, 6 de junio de 2007

Dry forests (Part 4): Salas

On H. E.'s property, on the other side of the riverbed, remains (thanks to his protection) a unique fragment of primary forest, which consists mainly of (if I'm right) Pithecellobium excelsum, Muntingia calabura, Loxopterigium huasango, Cordea luthea, Acacia macracantha and, of course, the king of peruvian dry forests - the "algarrobo" (prosopis pallida). Altough we haven't seen any (all forest animals are shy), there must be still ant-eaters living here. There sure are a lot of ants, and lots of birds, iguanas, squirrels, termites, wild honey bees, etc. And then and when the puma appears. We saw bones and furs of goats or sheep.