Back in 2011, a good friend of mine invited me to join her on a four-day trek to Machu Picchu, Peru, to celebrate a milestone birthday. Machu Picchu was not even on my radar at the time, but I jumped at the opportunity because I love to travel. I did some research and found out that the Amazon Rainforest is next door to Machu Picchu. I suggested to my friend that we add on a quick visit to the Amazon Rainforest, as we would probably never be in South America again. We spent three nights at an eco lodge exploring the rainforest.
I was not aware of the real impact the jungle had on me until I arrived back home in Canada. I was driving home from the airport and tears were streaming down my face. I felt so sad. It was the same sadness I had experienced the first year I went to overnight camp when I was 10 years old. I was homesick. I was homesick for the jungle and I knew I had to go back.
I went back two months later but this time instead of doing the touristy thing; I was taken to see the places where deforestation was occurring. I saw first hand ancient primary rain forests being cut down and rivers poisoned by the use of mercury in gold mining. Roads slicing through the rainforest and through the territories of indigenous tribes. The reality was startling.
When I came home from this trip, I felt an overwhelming responsibility to do something. I looked for a Canadian organization doing conservation work in the area I had travelled, which was Tambopata, Madre de Dios, Peru. I couldn’t find one so I decided I needed to start one. It took me two long years of hard work to convince the Canadian government to grant ARC charitable status.
We don’t believe ARC as a Canadian charity can swoop into Tambopata and dictate what needs to be done. For this very reason, ARC has set up a non-profit Peruvian sister organization called PARC. PARC consists of a diverse team of Peruvian professionals who work along side the board in Canada in developing the conservation vision, initiatives, strategies, programs and policies that most effectively advance conservation in Tambopata. These are the people who are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day management of the land in ARC’s care. ARC’s role in Canada focuses on raising awareness and gaining the financial support we need to carry out our projects in Tambopata.