In the footsteps of the ethnobotanical pioneers Richard Evans Schultes,
Franklin Aranda, Al Gentry and their many grad students, co-founders
Juan Ruiz and Michael Maki of The Richard Evans Schultes
Center for Amazonian Ethnobotanical Research (RESCAER), aka
The Schultes Center, seek to advance the protection and
development of plant medicines in the Amazon Basin, a world center
of biodiversity where the thread of traditional knowledge and practice
is at once strong and fragile.
To protect the basis of this knowledge involves protecting the
Amazonian ecosystem, including its people. They aim to do this through
development of appropriate agroforestry production practices,
integrating rural people with their environment in innovative and truly
sustainable ways. Combining ethnobotany with modern scientific
research tools can help both the people of this vast region and of the
planet to live better lives, while protecting and enhancing the life of
the supporting Amazonian biosphere.
The Schultes Center mission can be boiled down to two fundamental
activities: Bioprospecting and Talent Scouting. Bioprospecting
is the concerted search for novel and nutraceutically valuable compounds,
taking research clues from traditional uses, but going beyond that by
collaborating with regional research groups and international
Ethical bioprospecting is diametrically different from what has come
to be termed biopiracy, which is the exploitation of traditional medical
knowledge and biologically derived compounds without concern for
recompense or indigenous intellectual property rights.
RESCAER's corollary focus is talent scouting - which is a purposeful effort
to locate, inspire, and educate the next generation of young Amazonians
who can both support the retention of traditional knowledge and advance
it in the 21st century. RESCAER has a unique approach and an excellent
network platform in place, one which can share benefits to the community
through the individual initiatives of the talent it helps foster.
The efforts of the Schultes Center are being spearheaded by their CEO
MIKE MAKI, an individual with deep ties to, and experience with, forest
management, farming and renewable energy companies and systems,
and the Center has an incredible board of advisors which include
Dennis McKenna, Wade Davis (the biographer of the legendary
ethnobotanist Richard Evan Schultes), Paul Stamets, Luis Eduardo
Luna, and Michael Coe, amongst other stellar individuals.
Although several of their staff and advisors have long personal histories
with the Amazon rainforest and its people, The Schultes Center is a young
organization, begun in 2019 and somewhat set back by the global pandemic.
They now seek to move quickly to advance their work and build their
international support network. Many links in a remarkable global
network await activation.
What happens in the Amazon does not stay in the
Amazon; and the efforts of The Schultes Center can
truly have planetary implications.