The more places like Tierra del Volcan I discover in this world, the more optimistic I am about the future. GreenSpot.travel continues to find and showcase projects such as Tierra del Volcan because without them, the world of travel would not have such a bright future.
Tierra del Volcan is doing so many great things in Ecuador, it’s hard to list them all. But I’d like to take the opportunity here to describe some of the services for the community, some of the creative and innovative green building technologies they are using, and just how well they are embodying the philosophy of ecotourism.
A little about Tierra del Volcan:
Tierra del Volcan (Volcano Land) High Adventure, operates three working haciendas or farms: Hacienda El Porvenir, Hacienda El Tambo Quilindana and Hacienda Santa Rita Ecological Reserve, in the region surrounding the Cotopaxi Volcano, each one with its charm, ecosystem and distinctive touch. This area is known as the land of the four corners due to the four surrounding volcanoes: A Rumiahui 4,712 m (15,455 ft), Pasochoa 4200 m (13,776 ft), Sincholagua 4893 m (16049 ft) and Quilindana 4878 m (16000 ft), with snow capped Cotopaxi at it’s center.
A broad range of activities are available on the haciendas, from horseback riding while experiencing the culture of the Chagra (the Ecuadorian highland cowboy), dining in traditional straw-roofed farmhouses, camping in small valleys hidden between mountain folds, trekking around the premises taking in the magnificent scenery, climbing impressive peaks immersed in awe-inspiring landscapes. At the farmhouses they provide the chance to participate in the daily life of the haciendas or relax in front of a crackling fire.
Their philosophy “Mi casa es su casa” encompasses not only the service they provide, but their goals of protecting the surrounding natural environment and investing in social and educational development of their local communities.
Tierra del Volcan has been recognized for their initiatives by United Nations World Tourism Organization as a company committed to sustainable practices, they have partnered with the Nature Conservancy in the conservation of the Condor Bio Reserve- a conservation corridor that links several protected areas of the SNAP (Ecuadorian National Park and Preserved Areas System) and are certified for their ecotourism practices by the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism and Smart Voyager 2008.
Tierra del Volcan has been very active over the past decade in the conservation of the Paramos, native threatened vegetation, by commissioning studies, contributing volunteers, training local people, creating monitoring programs and conducting large scale reforestation.
Maybe most impressive are the construction and operations of their haciendas.
Hacienda El Porvenir is their main center of operation. It is a traditional hacienda house build 20 years ago in traditional constructive methods such as earth bricks (adobe), hay roof and wood. This house was initially built to lodge the family, but in 1999 was adapted for tourism needs. Since opening their doors to guests form all over the world, they have learned about sustainable development, better ecotourism practices and strong community relations and much more.
“We are aÂ forward- looking company committed to the preservation of Natural Resources, therefore we are committed to reducing our carbon emissions and compensate them 100% by 2015. Some of the actions taken to fulfil this goal are:
â€¢Â Â Â Waste management (reduce, reuse and recycle, plus composting organic wate)
â€¢Â Â Â Reduce energy consumption ( by replacing light bulbs with saving bulbs, training staff and increasing awareness of tourists about energy consumption,Â building strategies to save electricity by taking advantage of natural light, building strategies to isolate cold weather and minimize the heat loss, drying clothes and hotel implements with wind and sun.
â€¢Â Â Â House temperature and heating – chimneys are one of the heating mechanisms used for the house. Our commitment is that we only burn eucalyptus wood (an introduced tree specie that is highly efficient) that we bring from plantations of timber from the valleys. Also we have planted 200 hectares of native trees to give back to the land, something we are using.
â€¢Â Â Â Purchasing policies to buy less contaminating and more energy saving products.
â€¢Â Â Â Eradicate â€œslash and burnâ€ traditional practices at the three haciendas we run.”
Community support and educationÂ programs
Ecology club: The ecology club was founded to improve the scientific knowledge of the students from the Loreto and Pedregal schools nearby.
In the Club children of different ages can discuss themes as geology, biology, ecology, chemistry and geography among others. The Clubâ€™s activities also focus on waste management, cleaning of natural environments and pollution. All those activities are backed with experiments, artistic expressions and field trips.
This program is funded by volunteers who come to the participate in the program for at least one month. 35 per cent of the total value that each volunteer contributes is used for the acquisition of materials.
Volunteers for the school program:Â The volunteersâ€™ project for the schools is an initiative that was deemed necessary by the schools and its teachers. The volunteers assist the classes and help the teachers with the school management and lesson preparation. They also teach English, arts, theatre and sports.
Informal meetings and motivating courses for sustainable development: Various informal meetings with the Loreto and Pedregal communities about: The importance of a conservation policy for all of us and the future generations.
Adaptation of the schools and installations:Volunteers paint the schools, update the installations, make sure that the hygienic services work well and assess the overall needs of the schools so that they can be provided. Programs have been worked out with the schools located in the central area of the National Park of Cotopaxi.
Reforestation: With support from international volunteers more than 2000 species of native trees have been bought and planted; raised at the communityâ€™s green house in 2008. This program will help to recover eroded land on the wetlands of Pita River, one of the water reservoirs of Quito.
Cotopaxi: an active volcano:
The volcano â€œCotopaxiâ€ is considered a volcano with a moderate to high risk to explode. Therefore it is of significant importance to take certain measurements against the risks involved in case of an eruption. This program evaluated the present situation of the inhabitants of the Cotopaxi area regarding the knowledge they possess about the risks a volcano eruption can cause. It was found that the inhabitants of the area had little knowledge of such risks.
The project â€œCotopaxi; An active volcanoâ€ has as first objective to find solutions to future risks regarding the activity of the Cotopaxi volcano. It works with the different actors who are in the risk zone, educating the people in order to prevent human disasters and to minimize loss of materials.
They try to achieve integration between the different actors; communities, haciendas, farmers, tour operators etc. in order to work together on themes like healthiness, evacuation, education and others.
The project has evolved since it was born (2003) and since 2006 Tierra del Volcan is promoting Semana del Volcan ( Week of the Volcano) working with local school and presenting this new knowledge to the community in Open Houses; working with the women and young members of the community in Volcanic Hand Crafts, as an economic solution and for people living in high risk areas.
For further information about these projects please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Tierra del Volcan at: http://www.tierradelvolcan.com/