Word reference translates a todo pulmon as “to take deep breaths, to the max, and with all your might” and I’ve always been impressed with how appropriately the name suits this environmental organization located in Asuncion, Paraguay.
A Todo Pulmon, Paraguay Respira works to protect the forests in Paraguay and also works on restoration projects around the country. Taken directly from their page (and translated):
It is a Paraguayan NGO that designs, develops and implements comprehensive environmental campaigns and projects to raise awareness, promote good practices for sustainable production and generate strategies to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
I was able to join them for three days in forests on the eastern side of Paraguay, and here is a video that I created from that experience, meeting farmers and indigenous peoples that strive to live their life as they have for centuries in the Bosque Atlantico, or the Atlantic Forest. The video shows a little bit of working with two different indigenous communities and in all of my travels, this experience was one of the most special; I learned so much.
(I have to say, this was one of my first videos and I’ve lost access to make changes, but it’s nice to know I now make better)
To clarify where Paraguay and this video was filmed:
In the heart of South America is Paraguay, a peanut shaped country roughly the size of California. In the image of Paraguay, the light green shows the original boundaries of the Atlantic Forest. As shown in the graph in the video, the majority has been cut down in the last 50 or so years.
We spent three days meeting with people that are working with A Todo Pulmon and documenting the acreage of land under reforestation projects and their management of it.
To better explain the project that A Todo Pulmon has with these communities, think carbon credits. There are rules in Paraguay that say that land can be developed but a percentage has to be left wild. They are experimenting with allowing them to develop their entire property by “buying” into this program, which gives companies permission to develop all of their land and gives the money to communities that promise to not develop their own. This program provides financial income into communities that want to preserve their forests yet also need to provide for their basic needs.
As with carbon credits, there are pros and cons to this system. As with the rest of humanity, there are communities that flourish with this agreement, and rumors of others that take the money and still continue to cut down their forest. I think it is a great idea with lots of potential and one that needs to continue being looked into as part of the solution.
Another day, we met Paraguayan farmers that were working with A Todo Pulmon in an agro-forestry project, incorporating trees in their fields that could either be harvested or was beneficial to the below crops.
On the left is the photo of a man who is planting trees in his mate field, thanks to A Todo Pulmon. Yerba mate is the tree that produces the popular leaf for mate and terere in Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. It grows well as an undergrowth, which is why some farmers are trying to simultaneously have a profitable crop as well as help with reforestation.
My absolute favorite part of this experience was a phrase that might have passed too quickly in the video. The cacique (spiritual and political leader) Doña Antolina mentioned her relationship to the trees. She said that the trees are their priests, and that they live together.
The relationship I saw these communities have with their natural environment is at a profound level that I have never see paralleled.