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Cultivating Networks for Bioremediation in the Ecuadorean Amazon



Cultivating Networks for Bioremediation
in the Ecuadorean Amazon


The Source of AMP

Since 2006, the Amazon Mycorenewal Project (AMP) has been striving to grow stronger relationships with the biodiverse cultures at the grasp of our handshakes and beneath our footsteps. The Ecuadorean Amazon holds true to its nickname “Lungs of the Earth,” inhabiting over 17% of the world’s biodiversity and over eleven different indigenous peoples. Based out the Sucumbios province of Ecuador, AMP continues to investigate the powers of biomimicry, and apply the combination of fungi, plants, and bacteria for remediation of industrially polluted ecosystems.

Since the 1960s in the Sucumbíos region of Ecuador, multiple oil companies have continued poor management in resource extraction and as a result, approximately 18.5 billion gallons of oil now contaminate this biodiverse rainforest. Surface water and groundwater pollution has impacted above-ground wildlife, vegetation, and below-ground soil microbes. The cumulative effect of this pollution has impacted local communities and livestock in Sucumbíos, and inhabitants of this region have been afflicted with high cancer rates, birth defects, and severe skin and respiratory ailments.More information about the oil companies effect in Ecuador can be seen through these documentaries:

  • A Solution To Pollution (17 minute documentary about AMP)
  • Blood Of The Amazon (80 minute DVD by donation- filmed in the Amazon researching the effects of the oil industry on the environment and indigenous people)
  • Crude (The inside story of the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case, one of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuits on the planet)

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) growing in a petroleum contaminated pit

Solution: How We Break It Down

The current chapter of AMP entails the research and design of on-site biofiltration systems to decompose petroleum contamination before entering water systems. To this aim, we are documenting native communities that are naturally adapted to withstand severe petroleum contamination. Often organisms that are capable of surviving in oil-contaminated regions (i.e., petro-tolerant) have the capacity to metabolize petroleum hydrocarbons (i.e., petro-phillic) by digesting carbon bonds in the hydrocarbon molecule. In Ecuador, we plan to continue working with petro-phillic and petro-tolerant microbes to reduce the amount of toxic petroleum effluent entering streams and groundwater in the region.

At our home base in Lago Agrio, we have many projects contributing to the multi-facetted biofiltration system including a fungal cultivation lab, hot compost, worm compost, biochar stove, solar pasteurizer, and more.


Spawning Relationships

It is of AMP’s highest interest to raise awareness and collaborations with local universities, communities, and organizations to further test and implement bioremediation into their immediate environment.


Multi-purposeful rocket- stove design for cooking and making biochar! Made out of 100% recycled materials

Nicola Peel, co-founder of AMP, attended a national meeting on organic agriculture in Quijos, Ecuador where she was invited to a women’s mushroom cooperative. After being funded by the Ministry of Environment and the German Embassy to obtain the proper cultivation equipment and greenhouse, the women’s mushroom cooperative wanted to further their independence on growing and selling mushrooms; however after years of being refused cultivation advice, the cooperative has been forced to buy sawdust spawn from the only cultivator in Ecuador three hours away from their operation. As mycology is highly unknown in Ecuador, the women’s cooperative aims to spread awareness of the nutritional and medicinal benefits of mushrooms through easy and delicious mushroom recipes.

After visiting their growing operation, Nicola then invited them to ours. A trio of women then traveled 7 hours by bus to come visit our jungle cultivation lab. Representing a strong women’s cooperative, they were eager to learn more about cultivating for their own independence. AMP excitingly opened our cultivation lab and knowledge to these women, illustrating to them step-by-step how to cultivate their own mycelium into bulk spawn for fruiting bodies.

AMP womyn and Cooperative womyn unite to nurture  mycology into culture through food, medicine, and remediation applications.

AMP womyn and Cooperative womyn unite to nurture mycology into culture through food, medicine, and remediation applications.

It was a motivational experience for me to hear about the united women’s mushroom cooperatives in Ecuador. However, it disgusted me to hear about the other mushroom cultivators refusing to teach them growing techniques for fear of competition.  It’s thoughts like these that prevent humanity from progressing together, especially when trying to profit from the Earth’s healing potentials. A powerful movement has begun with these women nurturing mycology into their culture through food, medicine, and remediation. Mycelial networks will continue to grow, and unite diversity all over the world.


AMP’s Intentions

Industrial pollution has increased in scope over the past century and often has unforeseen negative consequences on the ecosystem. The Amazon Mycorenewal Project has overarching goals in mind to design effective bioremediation techniques for ease of replication worldwide. We stand true in our ethics and approach that all findings towards healthier common grounds be accessed through open-source journals for all of Pachamama’s inhabitants.

We are reaching out to supportive hands to spread the importance of this critical research. Please consider contributing to AMP’s overarching goals through any means possible:


Saludos to all,
Lexie Gropper and The AMP Crew


About the author:

Lexie Gropper is the Project Coordinator for The Amazon Mycorenewal Project in Ecuador.  She  graduated with her undergraduate in Biology: Environmental Sciences from Appalachian State University. She finds her religious views in nature and strives to adopt bio-mimicry and permaculture into her daily mentality and actions. Attempting to understand the cosmic relationships between the trophic levels, she is also fascinated with cinematography and documenting grassroots DIY projects.


2 thoughts on “Cultivating Networks for Bioremediation in the Ecuadorean Amazon

  1. So sad to hear of these womyn being denied advice on growing techniques for fear of competition but so very heart warming to know that they have now been given that advice. The competitive, separate from ‘others’, mindset is deeply ingrained into our societies but with every action such as this we chip away at that and I hope demonstrate how cooperation is for the benefit of all.

    Many blessings on this work.

    Forest x

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