Our Story

In 2011, Canadian Jana Bell travelled to Peru where she visited an ecolodge and trekked in the Amazon rainforest. Jana was struck by the magic and mystery of the jungle and knew she had to return and explore some more. When Jana returned two months later, in place of tourist experiences she set out with a guide to see first-hand the gritty reality of rainforest destruction. She witnessed vast areas of ancient primary forest devastated by illegal logging. She visited illegal gold mining camps that had transformed pristine wilderness into a mercury-polluted moonscape. She walked on new roads slicing through previously remote and inaccessible areas where indigenous people live in voluntary isolation.

Jana returned to Canada with an overwhelming sense of responsibility to take action. She searched for a Canadian organization working to protect the area she’d visited; finding none, Jana launched ARC, which received charitable status from the Canadian government in 2014.

Our Canadian team consists entirely of volunteers which means all donations are directed to our conservation projects.

Amazon Rainforest Conservancy

ARC Canada

jana bell
Jana Bell

Founder and President

Jana Bell (Honors B.A., Queen’s University) spent many years working in the corporate world as a Human Resources Advisor. However, her life path took a different turn after she visited the Peruvian Amazon in 2011 and returned to Canada feeling an overwhelming call to directly address the deforestation and destruction of that magical place. In 2012 she founded Amazon Rainforest Conservancy (ARC) and its Peruvian sister organization (PARC). With these two organizations, Jana hopes to bring an integrated approach to conservation that preserves the natural habitat and species of the area and also contributes to a sustainable livelihood for the indigenous inhabitants.

Gurbeen Bhasin

Board Member

Gurbeen Bhasin is the founder and executive director of Aangen: A Community Service Organization. Aangen is a Toronto-based non-profit social enterprise that focuses on advancing food security and social justice both locally and globally. Aangen creates employment for those experiencing barriers and advocates for housing and food security for ALL. She set up a social enterprise (an idea she had in grad school) so she could serve the community without restrictions and dependency on funders. Her values are to serve each family and individual based on their unique needs and wraparound the services they require. All of these services are covered by Aangen’s business functions as well as donations from community members.

While Gurbeen has been an environmental activist for many years, she has been inspired to take an active stand for protecting the Amazon rainforest. She visited Peru in 2020 and fell in love with the rainforest there and has developed a deep connection to protecting it and educating others about the importance of preserving it for generations to follow. Gurbeen is actively learning Spanish so she can help support Amazon Rainforest Conservancy in its mission and hopes to support this cause forever.

Jason Ruby

Board Member

Jason Ruby has been active in video production and marketing for more than 25 years. He’s currently the President of the Quake Marketing Group — a full-service, international B2B marketing agency collaborating with innovative technology companies. Jason is also the winner of the CTV-CKCO Pat Fitzgerald Award. After learning about ARC, and sharing information about Jana Bell’s dedication to protecting the Amazon rainforest, Jason and everyone on the Quake team was eager to get involved.

 

 

 

Jared Schachter

Board Member

Jared Schachter (Honours Business Administration, Richard Ivey Business School) has a diverse business background in management consulting and leadership in multiple technology companies. As an aspiring Effective Altruist he has always been passionate about social impact, with a specific focus on the environment. After a 4 month trip to South America in 2019 which included a multi-week stay in the Amazon, he felt a specific calling to focus his philanthropic efforts on conservation and protection of this precious area.

Mark Weinstein
Mark Weinstein

Board Member

Mark Weinstein has been a video editor for over 20 years and has frequently travelled the world while doing it. He’s always been drawn to the editing process, but can frequently be seen with a camera or wrangling some sound equipment as he enjoys every part of the filmmaking process.

After 14 years of editing in a traditional office environment, he started longing for “more”. So, he packed up his life – or the essentials, anyway – and put what he could onto his bicycle and pedalled from Toronto to St. John’s, Newfoundland to Key West, FL. After that, he knew returning to “office life” just wasn’t for him. Since then, he’s been working remotely from wherever “home” happens to be and pedalled nearly 25,000 km on various cross-country cycle tours along the way.

And while he’s never cycled in Peru, his first adventure vacation was a 100 km hike in the Peruvian Andes and he loved every part of it. When he learned of ARC’s activities, he knew it was a great fit to help out – his adventurous spirit agreed too.

Peruvian Amazon Rainforest Conservancy

Peruvian Amazon Rainforest Conservancy (PARC) – Lowland Forests Project Team:

jana bell
Jana Bell

Founder and President

Jana Bell (Honors B.A., Queen’s University) spent many years working in the corporate world as a Human Resources Advisor. However, her life path took a different turn after she visited the Peruvian Amazon in 2011 and returned to Canada feeling an overwhelming call to directly address the deforestation and destruction of that magical place. In 2012 she founded Amazon Rainforest Conservancy (ARC) and its Peruvian sister organization (PARC). With these two organizations, Jana hopes to bring an integrated approach to conservation that preserves the natural habitat and species of the area and also contributes to a sustainable livelihood for the indigenous inhabitants.

Roky Diestra

Board Member

Roky Diestra was born in Tarapoto, Peru. He is a certified public accountant, with 8 years of experience in accounting, tax and labour matters, and is the Treasurer of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest Conservancy (PARC).

Roky is sociable, cheerful and above all responsible in the tasks entrusted to him. He is passionate about the environment and proud to offer his support for its conservation and contribute to the growth of the region and country he calls home.

Luis Martínez

Board Member

Luis Martínez was born in Lima and has more than 25 years experience in legal matters. He is a relentless defender of justice, respect for human rights and the environment. He guides and assists those who need it, offering his defense in civil, criminal, commercial issues, especially in matters of formalization and sanitation of informal, urban and rural property.

Luis now calls Tarapoto home and litigates in the San Martin region where he considers himself as one more “San Martinense”. However, thanks to his many responsibilities as a lawyer and legal representative of several companies, he has visited many regions of Peru.

When not litigating, Luis likes to travel and contemplate the incomparable landscapes of the region. He is a fan of photography – especially of animals, plants and jungle landscapes – and is skilled at restoring old objects for reuse, as well as recycling.

 

jana bell
Gerson Pizango Murrieta

Forest Guardian

Born and raised in Iquitos, Gerson has worked in logging, carpentry, construction and as a volunteer park ranger in the Allpahauya Mishana National Reserve. After struggling to find steady employment in Iquitos, Gerson was happy to move to Puerto Maldonado with his wife Joice and daughter Melany. Together, they live in the jungle where he works as a Forest Guardian protecting PARC’s land.

Joice Gabrielita Perez Pizango

Concession Caretaker

Joice was born and raised in Iquitos and worked alongside her father in fishing. To support her family, she has also worked weaving leaves for roofs. With her parents now living in Puerto Maldonado, she was happy to move there with her husband and daughter to work as a Concession Caretaker on PARC’s land.

 

Darwin Solano

Executive Director

Bird researcher, forest engineer and conservationist, Darwin works in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. For over a decade he has been committed to conservation initiatives such as reforestation, agroforestry and animal reintroduction with a particular focus on Macaws. His local expertise has been solicited for various nature documentaries, and most recently for leading a team to plant over 10,000 native trees for an independent effort.

Raised between the Andes and the Amazon, Darwin has always been a nature lover. He spent most of his childhood following the ancient ways of his grandparents—living in harmony with the land while cultivating their food, gathering other resources and living off-the-grid.

He was the only one in his class of forest engineers at the university of Cusco who specialized in conservation. He has since dedicated his time to the life long study of conservation, focusing particularly on forest management for conservation, sustainable agriculture and reforestation as well as macaw conservation.

Amazon Rainforest Conservancy Northern Peru

ARC Northern Peru (ARCNP) – Cloud Forests Project Team:

jana bell
Jana Bell

Founder and President

Jana Bell (Honors B.A., Queen’s University) spent many years working in the corporate world as a Human Resources Advisor. However, her life path took a different turn after she visited the Peruvian Amazon in 2011 and returned to Canada feeling an overwhelming call to directly address the deforestation and destruction of that magical place. In 2012 she founded Amazon Rainforest Conservancy (ARC) and its Peruvian sister organization (PARC). With these two organizations, Jana hopes to bring an integrated approach to conservation that preserves the natural habitat and species of the area and also contributes to a sustainable livelihood for the indigenous inhabitants.

Olegario Barco Cordoba

Forest Guardian

Olegario came to live with his parents and siblings in the valley when he was 17 years old. At that time, his family saw the area had good land for agricultural production as the valley had already been deforested and families were planting coffee to provide them with a livelihood.

In the early 1990’s Olegario worked on his family’s farm and as a labourer for his neighbours. However, in the late 1990s, a fungus ruined the coffee crops, leaving many people without production and work options.

Olegario now works as a forest guardian for ARC Northern Peru. He never imagined that after years of farming with unsustainable practices that he would have the opportunity to work conserving, protecting and reforesting the rainforest. To date, he has planted more than a thousand trees.

In Olegario’s words: “It is a safe job, it allows me to support my family, if there were not this job, what would we do? We would be sad. And it is a very important job because without it all the forest would have already been cut down.”

Olegario is eager to continue learning how to use new technologies to monitor various species, while contributing to the conservation of the forest.

Elver Mejia Cayotopa

Forest Guardian

Elver works as a forest guardian for ARC Northern Peru. He is passionate about the Cordillera Escalera Region and is keen to learn new techniques to care for the forests here and live in harmony with this valuable ecosystem.

Having lived most of his life in this valley, Elver has seen how these forests were cut down to make way for coffee plantations and cattle ranches. Elver wants to support the recovery and conservation of the forests. As Elver says, “I would love for this whole area to go back to being the mountain it was before and for the entire population to reforest so we can see the animals of the mountain everywhere.”

Elver has been able to identify tracks from jaguars, tapirs and many other animals on ARC Northern Peru’s first parcel of land called Tapirwasi. In his own words, “I think Tapirwasi is going to be like a conservation centre in the future with a high presence of animals.”

 

 

Luis Martínez

Board Member

Luis Martínez was born in Lima and has more than 25 years experience in legal matters. He is a relentless defender of justice, respect for human rights and the environment. He guides and assists those who need it, offering his defense in civil, criminal, commercial issues, especially in matters of formalization and sanitation of informal, urban and rural property.

Luis now calls Tarapoto home and litigates in the San Martin region where he considers himself as one more “San Martinense”. However, thanks to his many responsibilities as a lawyer and legal representative of several companies, he has visited many regions of Peru.

When not litigating, Luis likes to travel and contemplate the incomparable landscapes of the region. He is a fan of photography – especially of animals, plants and jungle landscapes – and is skilled at restoring old objects for reuse, as well as recycling.

 

Samuel Prada

Founding Member & Project Manager

Samuel Prada was born and grew up in Northern Peru in an expat family who founded an organic farm. When he was 10, Sam moved to Switzerland to attend school and learn a profession. As a mechatronics field engineer, he has been able to combine his passions of travelling and working in diverse high-tech industries.

Since 2013, he has been spending most of his free time exploring rural Peru’s richness in diversity. Having found this passion, he puts all his efforts into the conservation of flora and fauna.

Cindy Reátegui

Founding Member & Executive Director

Cindy Reátegui was born and lives in Tarapoto, Peru where she manages La Patarashca Group – her family’s business of hotels, tours and restaurants. In addition, Cindy works in real estate, promotes and develops tourism projects, provides training and advice for food production, consults for national and international film production companies.

Cindy has always felt a close connection with nature and in particular the Amazon. She has founded two conservation organizations focused on wildlife rescue, reforestation, and the study of medicinal plants. She is also passionate about sharing the ancestral knowledge of the Amazon diversity.

Her love for Tibetan Buddhism practices led her to create yoga, meditation and other ceremonial retreats and she and her team are actively building the biggest Stupa in the region.

Our Sponsors

ARC’s management team is grateful to the following sponsors who not only support ARC financially but also spread awareness of the organization and its conservation programs.

Tribe Craft Chocolate
quake marketing group
musicians fighting climate change
Amazon Rainforest Conservancy

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©2023, Amazon Rainforest Conservancy