More about the project, sustainability, and the Anangu community.
The Añangu community decided years ago that it was not going to succumb to local pressures to destroy the forest. Logging, market hunting, and oil extraction are all actively destroying local forests, and the income from the lodge will allow the community to continue to resist these pressures into the distant future. Often the most important part of a conservation project is the people.
The community land is located inside Yasuní National Park, and one might think that park status would confer substantive protection to the forest and its animals - after all, Yasuní was declared a National Park in 1979 and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989. Unfortunately, the National Parks System in Ecuador is as under-funded as any other and does not have the resources to adequately patrol and protect Yasuní. The Napo project has worked closely with the Ecuadorian Parks System and the relationship has allowed the Parks System to rely on the Añangu community and the Napo Wildlife Center as their primary source of on-the-ground protection for this region of Yasuní.
What could be more effective than local residents protecting what belongs to them? All one must do is look at the barren cattle pastures of adjacent communities to know what could have become of this community territory in the absence of a legitimate, non-extractive income base. The community receives all of the net profits. The community has a democratic political structure that has decided how funds will be spent. The primary expenditures are for education and health care. The community does not maintain any debt from the construction of the lodge. All employees, whether from the community or not, are paid market salaries for the jobs that they perform. Members of the Añangu community make up between 85-93% of the total workforce at the lodge at any given time, and this variation is primarily dependent upon scheduling.
In the first half of 2005, 33 dry composting toilets were built in the Quichua Indian Community of Añangu. One dry toilet was built for each family, plus two for the school, two for the community meeting hall, and five strategically located for the use of Napo Wildlife Center guests. The toilets are a double-chambered design, based on the concept of Ecological Sanitation in which our bodily wastes are respectfully returned to the soil, rather than contaminating the environment or being expected to disappear magically. Urine is separated and drained directly to the soil, making use of its high nitrogen content for use as a fertilizer. The average person excretes four kilograms of urea every year, which holds enough nitrogen to fertilize all of the grains that he or she eats. Since the urine goes straight to the soil and is absorbed by plants, it does not have time to ferment and thus produces no odor. Solids are covered in locally available dry organic material like ashes, rice hulls, or dry leaves and left to decompose naturally. The two-chamber design allows the contents of one chamber to decompose while the other chamber is in use. The aerobic design of the chambers creates odor-free decomposition into a rich and productive soil.