The Ecological Youth Center of Uyuni K’asa

The Ecological Youth Center of Cajamarca was founded in 1990 by the organization Centro Ecológico Juvenil at 3200 m (10500’ ) altitude. The original goal was to create ecological consciousness through practical activities in Nature and to do this together with the local population. So began the first efforts to reforest this eroded land. Thus, baren, stoney ground and sparse grasslands steadily changed and become a green zone of woods, meadows, fruit trees, gardens and flowers. This area now consists of 500 hectares (1500 acres) of forest which is covered with pine, eucalyptus, oak and gnarly Kewnia trees. This forest now provides an ecological habitat, an educational site and a restful environment for plants, animals and humans.

Concepts and Results

The reforestation of the area followed the concept of giving the title to the forested lands to the daughters of the farmers after 20 years of husbandry. This would ensure continuous development of the forested lands. At the same time, the farmers in the region would be involved in the project with their daughters as they learned to independently maintain nurseries for their plantings. Thus the forest would surely be sustained. The ecological effects resulting from the reforestation efforts are clearly visible. The climate of this arid region which is so difficult to farm shows measurable improvements. The water volume supplied by the major springs here increased substantially, biodiversity multiplied, and the land produces better harvests. All of this especially benefits the local population.

Education and Special Projects

In the CEJ-Cajamarca, there are workshops, log cabins, nurseries and a small animal farm. There is a nature trail, and a recent addition of a deep well ensures ample water supply. The Center offers an affordable stay for tourists, for school outings and for university students who come to vacation, to conduct seminars, to transform ideas into
projects, and to lend a vigorous hand. Thus Sucre university students conduct independent projects, i.e., a worm farm, waterless toilets, plant cultivation in vertical pipes with drip irrigation, and the drying and sale of wild mushrooms. Additionally, there is the production of “Terra Preta do Indio,” a fertile mix of charcoal, manure and compost.

Furthermore, there is the abundant fir lumber at the Center. This lumber can be sold in several towns and cities in Bolivia or is used locally to build homes and furniture, ball fields and playgrounds and for crafts.

Accommodations and Recreation

The CEJ-Cajamarca is linked with Hostelling International, HI Bolivia. Several accommodations exist:

• two large buildings for seminars, with a kitchens, toilets, and dormitories for 30 occupants each
• two log cabins with kitchens and baths for 2 – 4 persons each
• a new eco-house with a kitchen and a bath for 4 persons

The entire CEJ-complex is supplied with solar electricity, hot showers and with fresh spring water safe for drinking.
There are numerous options for excursions in the region of Cajamarca, through the forest to the Cajamarca River, up to the Cordilliera (4000 m, 13,100’) and to Inka cliff paintings. The Bolivian capital of Sucre is located about 30 km (20 miles) away and is easily reached.