This profile was prepared when Víctor Zambrano was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Víctor Zambrano's central idea is that, with proper techniques and effective management, poor jungle soils can be successfully and sustainably exploited without damaging the ecosystem. He is convinced, as well, that deforested areas and depleted soils can be recovered and yield diversified and sustainable crops grown while the recovery process is under way. He also believes that the introduction of vegetation with the specific aim of attracting animals can help restore natural ecological balances long disrupted by indiscriminate and nonsustainable land use practices.Víctor is demonstrating those several notions in an experimental operation that includes a reforested area (in which indigenous species and fruit trees with commercial potential are intermixed), plots for annual cultivation of vegetable crops, small restored lakes with newly introduced fish populations and an area of mixed vegetation that is designed to foster the return of native birds and animals. His methodology includes careful experimentation, testing and analysis to determine the land use patterns that will protect the ecosystem while optimizing yields and profits from the cultivation and sale of produce and natural resources.