WHO WE ARE

We are Novalis, a small team of individuals working professionally in very diverse themes related to ecological sustainability, animal welfare, permaculture, natural resource management, anthropology, linguistics, sociology, natural building, design, healing arts, cultural preservation, and education.

 

Collaborating in partnership, we are connecting with local landowners to help create sustainable blueprints for the area. These blueprints are actions for lasting and interconnected livelihood, through preservation and conservation that foster creative flourishing. Together we have decades of experience working in this region, and are eager to continue the process of learning with and supporting the local people and initiatives that make this region unique. 

NOVALIS  CORE TEAM

Juan Zuniga

Peru - Linguist - Founder - Director - Medicine Team

Juan was born and raised in Cuzco, Peru of ancestral Incan lineage. He studied Linguistics at PUCP (Pontifical Catholic University of Peru) specializing in Quechua. He has been active in the region of Madre de Dios since 2001 and has extensive experience in working with local communities both in the Andes and the Amazonas for over 18 years. 

 

Juan has designed formal bi-lingual education programs for Quechua, Yine, and Ese Eja nations, community intermediation, nutritional information modules, and natural construction. 

His goal is to develop a way to live in harmony with the natural and ancestral traditions within the forests that he now calls home.

Cassandra Caroline

Canada/Peru - Co-founder - Strategic Sustainability Planning - Ethnobotanist - Advisor - Logistics

Cassandra is our main logistics coordinator, helping you to have a joyful, comfortable and safe stay. She has been living with Novalis for the last 6 years, and knows many of the plants and animals onsite intimately. She is one of the best to get in touch with about conservation efforts as she has been a driving force in our conservation efforts, particularly in the protection of an additional 1100 hectares through local partnerships. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria in Canada. Her focus was on environmental restoration of degraded ecosystems, ethnobotany, and political ecology. She completed her Masters in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, Sweden in 2012. Her masters thesis was focused on Danish Social Enterprises and their use of business as a way to create positive social and ecological benefits in their communities. These focuses on ecology, sustainability and socioeconomics have been driving forces in Cassandra's work, volunteer and research experience. 

Dionny

Peru - Land Caretaker - Expert Chef

Dionny hails from Puno, but now calls the forests homes. He has a varied background and his passion really is in creating joy for people. He loves to craft vegetarian and vegan dishes. He also knows a lot about the forest. He makes this home home!

Loyver Yui

Peru - Vegetalista

Loyver is Shipibo from the Alto Ucayali community of San Francisco and learned to work with rainforest plant medicines under the tutelage of his mother, who learned with her grandfather, father and father-in-law. Loyver's mother recounted her many experiences of medicine and ceremony to her young son. Loyver holds the tradition of Icaros (medicine songs), overseeing ceremonies and is a visionary painter.

Yuri Lopez

Peru- Land Caretaker - Guide

Yuri is a local Kichwa member and resident of four years from the neighboring community of Puerto Arturo. He is our master tree climber, highly skilled builder, and carries knowledge of the regional plant medicines passed down from his grandfather. He is a year round resident of the Novalis community and works alongside us integrating his ancestral tradition and occidental philosophies/approaches in relating with the plants of the rainforest. He has a passion for guitar playing and is a skilled artisan. 

Melanie Dizon

Peru / New York - Co-founder - Creative Seed

Melanie is a designer and storyteller. She was born in the Philippines and raised in New York. Dizon was an entrepreneur at an early age, exposing her talents and skills in the industry of fashion & design for over 20 years. She holds an accreditation from Cal Earth Institute for SuperAdobe earth building and a permaculture design certification from Midwest Permaculture Group. She works part-time with her brother and architect Marc Dizon in environmental design for music events and conferences. 

Melanie relocated to the Madre de Dios region in 2016 to explore a new way to be of service. She works with indigenous women, researching the knowledge of traditional plants and collaborating with their artistic expression. She hopes to bridge cultural knowledge through the lens of art, anthropology, and ecology; also experimenting with creative concepts around conservation.   

 

 

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OUR COLLABORATORS

Javier Vera

Peru - Forestry Expert

Javier has lived in Madre de Dios all his life, and he and his family have been logging, harvesting brazil nuts, and cattle ranching in the area. He and his family live in the jungle, and live from the jungle. His work is for a sustainable future here.

Gian Luiggi Massa

Peru - Anthropologist

Luiggi has a degree in Anthropology, and a Masters degree in Amazonian Studies. He has over five years of work experience in issues relating to Indigenous Peoples. He served as a research assistant in the project Monitoring Natural Resource Use in Native communities of the Lower Urubamba, Cusco (August 2008 - July 2009).

 

Gian Luiggi was a member of the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance - International Idea, an Intergovernmental Agency that promotes democracy and citizen participation. He acted as a team member in the political dialogues on multiculturalism, as part of the project "Intercultural Dialogue"  to improve channels of political representation, and consultation of Amazonian indigenous groups in the regions of Amazonas, San Martin and Loreto (September 2011 to October 2012).

 

He is a specialist in Intercultural and Indigenous Amazon in the Office of Indigenous Policy of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. There he was part of the team responsible for the coordination for the implementation of policies and guidelines for working with Indigenous Peoples. He also was part of the training team on multicultural policies, and conducted workshops for government officials and leaders of indigenous organizations in Lima (January to September 2013).

Alberto Arroyos

Peru - Brazil Nut Harvester and Ecologist

Alberto Arroyos has never cut a tree in his consession, knowing well that his brazil nuts produce well in intact forest. He has spent is life watching the jungle and learning from it and his keen, and local insights have been honed over the decades and are vital for intelligent resource management. He lived on the river edge for 10 years, and has donated several hectares of his land for sustainable agriculture projects.

Luciano Cárcamo

Peru - Sociologist

Studied Social Science in Sociology at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, and focused on courses and workshops on the reality of social issues faced by Indigenous Peoples, both globally and in Peru. Specifically these courses included work with human rights, economic issues, conflict resolution, the use of natural resources, environmental management (including special courses on resource extraction in the Amazon), and community liaison work. He has training in public speaking and communications and has over nine years of experience in project development, fieldwork, facilitation of workshops. He has worked with local and regional governments, as well as with rural communities, indigenous communities and social organizations on development and environment projects on the coast, in the mountains and in jungles of Peru.

Pablo Carreño

Peru - Linguist

Pablo studied linguistics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, where he also completed his master's degree. His main areas of interest are the ancient Indo-European languages (Greek, Latin and Sanskrit) and the vernacular languages of Peru, especially Quechua.

In the field of vernacular languages, in 2010 he introduced as master's thesis Cajatambo Quechua: a grammatical sketch on the Quechua variety of the province of Cajatambo.

He is currently preparing to lead a team of latinistas, manual Latin for Peruvianists (which has the working title of Peruvia America); as well as several essays on topics of linguistics and Latin literature. 

https://epeolatria.lamula.pe

Roberto Fuccella

Italy - Agronomy and Agroforestry

http://www.diprove.unimi.it/groups/agro_rg6.htm

Francheska

Italy - Agroforestry

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