Locked down in Heaven – from Nicola Peel

Summer 2020


Well it’s about that time I sent out some news, some solutions, some wonder and

some plans for us all… so here goes… I hope you are sitting comfortably .

Well hello everyone.

I thought it was about time I gave you all an update on what I have been up to this

year.Who would have thought that a virus could bring the world literally to a
standstill? I have been blessed to be locked down in one of the most biodiverse
areas on Earth, so no complaints from me.  I decided that this would be my last
trip to Ecuador. I have now been working here for 20 years and the projects I have
started all have their own life and so it is time for me to move on.

Thank you to all those who supported my crowdfunding campaign for enabling this .

I have burnt my fair share of fossil fuels over my life and feel like now is the time to

seriously reduce all demand. Although I feel that my work here in the Amazon has
definitely had a positive impact, I was born in the the United Kingdom for a reason.
It is from within the dragons den that we must change the dream of the western

For now an overview of my work and as always some positive news and stories I

have collected along the way.
If there was anywhere in the world you would like to be stuck this is probably it.  I

came here to write a report for 5 days and will have spent almost 5 months by the

time I leave.

The Los Cedros Reserve in north western Ecuador is one of the most biologically

diverse habitats in the world, with more than12,000 acres of primary cloud forest.

It also safeguards the headwaters of four important watersheds. It protects over

200 species with high extinction risk, five of which are regarded as critically

endangered including the spider monkey, spectacled bear and puma.

There have been registered over 800 different kinds of moths and 400 different

kinds of orchids. The place is ALIVE.

Sadly this incredible biodiversity is threatened as gold has been found in these

mountains. The Canadian mining company Cornerstone Capital Resources 

(Booo.. feel free to write to them) plans a huge open pit gold mine.

Imagine for one wedding ring 10 ton of earth needs to be moved so we can only

just imagine the devastation that would occur and the numerous threatened

species that will be lost for ever.

If you would like a virtual visit and to see through my camera lens I have uploaded

photos of over 400 different species.

This is what biodiversity looks like…


What a blessing it has been to drink pure water straight from the stream and

waterfalls. One of the last undisturbed wildernesses on Earth.

An extract from my blog..

Insects with vibrant metallic bodies appear like they have arrived from another

planet. Giant black millipedes like armoured tanks and others which appear like

small red snakes with hundreds of legs cruise along the forest floor.  Snakes

slither, praying mantis clean their faces and beetles’ shimmer with an uncommon


Fireflys flash their lights whilst fungal cities glow in the dark. Exquisite orchids

abound and most can only be seen under the magnifying lens. I admit I am now a

self-confessed orchid lover. The faces in them and how phallic they are makes you

wonder why. Why do they expend so much energy to be so perfectly beautiful

when some only remain for no more than a day?

Multi-coloured hummingbirds shimmer and vibrant butterflies flit by never stopping

to pose for a photo.

Clouds embrace us hiding this kingdom whilst the distant roar of the howler

monkeys sounds like thunder travelling through the mist.

To hear more visit ….


So it seems I was in the right place at the right time when a new campaign was

needed. During my stay we heard that the Constitutional court, the highest in the

land had chosen Los Cedros as a precedent setting case based on the Rights of

Nature. This reserve has been given the title of Bosque Protector, Protected

Forest, so how can it be justified that mining can go ahead?

Ecuador was the first country in the world to write in its constitution of the Rights of

Nature or Pachamama.  Sadly though the government has turned a blind eye and

carried on with mining regardless.

If we win this case it will ensure protection of a total of 6 million acres of protected

forests and indigenous territories which are currently threatened by mining and set

an international precedent.  If you have any media contacts, Earth rights lawyers

or philanthropists in your circles who would be interested in this please send them

my way.

For the full story see..


and to donate


It really has been like living in a lost world, at times I feel like I am in some kind of virtual reality game.

We decided to go on an expedition to where National Geographic had previously

set up a base to check if there had been any activity from the mining company.

Recent mule prints indicated there had. An 8 hour walk up through the clouds into

a world dripping with orchids where many species are still un-named.

But before lock down when life was ‘normal’ I had spent the previous 3 months

working in the Amazon.

This year I built 28 families rainwater systems so in total I have provided over 200

families with clean drinking water.  It was wonderful to visit some familiar faces and

one family who has had one of my rain water systems for 12 years.  They told me

they had changed the roof twice and how grateful they are. They reported that

before, when they drank water straight from the stream the children were always

sick and on medication. This is due to the contamination from the oil industry and

Chevron Texaco’s legacy of 1000 toxic pits which remain in the area.  It has been

great to really do something useful with my time and it is hard to think

of not continuing this work when still so many families are in need.  What has

always been important to me is that they can be built from local resources as

cheaply as possible and be easy to fix.  I decided to make a short video on how to

build the rainwater systems to hopefully encourage more people to build them


Great to see how the agroforestry project has developed over the year.  In 2016

I started collaborating with Rainforest Saver  to prevent further rainforest

destruction by regenerating disused cattle pastures.  In the Amazon a couple of

years after clearing the forest it becomes hard and compacted and useless for any

kind of agriculture. This then encourages more deforestation.

Using agroforestry we can grow the native guaba or inga edulis tree in alleys. This

tree not only gives delicious fruit it is also nitrogen fixing and leguminous which

after pollarding produces a huge amount of leaves which in turn decomposes into

biomass. This compost creates fertile soil so that once again people can  grow

healthy crops between the alleys. The pollarded wood can also be turned into

charcoal and even better still biochar and put back into the land to improve the soil.

We have had great results with coffee, cacao, peanuts, beans, yuca, pineapple

and more. They are now doing comparative sites where they plant exactly the

same number of seeds inside and outside the alley so they can see with their own

eyes the difference in the harvest.

For my full report and photos see….


and to hear the testimonials of the farmers see…


Pablo Fajardo who has represented the 30,000 indigenous people in the David

and Goliath case against Chevron Texaco is now representing 9 young Ecuadorian

girls. Under an Action of Protection they are demanding that the government turn

off the huge gas flares associated with the oil wells.  In the Province where they live

there are over 400 flares contaminating the air, the soil and their water. This area of

Ecuador has one of the highest cancer and childhood leukemia rates in the world

and 3 out of 4 victims will be woman. That is why the case has been tried with all

girls.  I went with them to the courts and gave a testimonial and witness statement.

One of the lawyers for the oil company manipulated what I had said. I could not

stand to hear these lies so shouted the truth out in the courtroom…. After 20 years

of working in in Lago Agrio and my very last day I was escorted out of the court

room by the police.

For more information see



To see what a leaking gas flare looks like in the town of Shushufindi and to hear

from the girls themselves I have recorded their short testimonials.

This year I was invited out to visit the Secoya and Sekopai Indigenous

communities. They asked if I could give them some talks on the agroforestry

project and some general environmental advice. Whilst there I was honoured to be

the only non-indigenous to celebrate the chonta festival with them. I stayed a few

nights in each community living with the families, sleeping in my hammock, eating

cassava bread, drinking their famous fermented chicha (which is made from the

womans saliva) and dancing into the early hours, before waking up before sunrise

to drink yopo, a traditional entheogen .

I was also taken out to see the largest Ceibo tree I have ever seen. This is the

same sacred tree that Avatar was based around. What an honour to meet this

great one. See at the end of newsletter….


The South East Climate Alliance  (SECA) Celebration

It was great to organise an anniversary event for SECA.

Incredible to think that only just over year ago I had the idea to bring together

groups in the South East of England working on Climate Change. When an idea’s

time has come it seems there is no stopping it.  At the anniversary event we

shared some of our members success stories before narrowing down into interest

groups of Education, Transport, Energy, Circular Economy, Nature and Working

with Councils. Ending with a great buffet style feast.

We had attendants from 4 counties in the South East including youth delegates

from Christ’s Hospital and Brockwood.

An amazing group of movers and shakers have joined together with over 80

environmental, social and faith based organisations to focus on what needs to be

done. We have had great success being accepted by different political parties and

as a council advisory group. My job it seemed was to initiate this group and at the

anniversary event I decided to step back and allow the steering group to keep on

steering without me.

For more info and resources for working with councils, campaigns and individuals

see https://seclimatealliance.uk/


Well that is enough of me and what I have been up to this year. Lots more in my

blogs. Here are some other stories I have been collecting for this newsletter.

I always tell myself I am going to get more than one newsletter out a year but it still

has not happened. So think it like the Nicola magazine or a book… which leads me

on to Yes I have been writing a book and wish I could announce it was ready ..

alas.. still in progress…. watch this space…

The world’s largest urban farm is opening in the French capital and will soon produce around 1,000kg of organic produce every day

Based on the top floor of a municipal swimming pool in the busy Marais district,

this thriving city farm is at the heart of an urban food revolution in the French

capital.  The farm’s vertical system is closed- loop, doesn’t waste any water, and

doesn’t use pesticides. In season, it produces some 20-30,000 portions of fruit,

salad and vegetables.  Visitors will be able to eat at a 300-cover on-site restaurant,

attend educational tours and even lease small vegetable plots of their own. The

all-organic produce, cultivated by around 20 gardeners, will be grown using

aeroponic vertical farming methods.


Although this is old news by now it is still worth a mention.

Who would have thought we would have such a win?

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been ruled illegal by the court of

appeal because ministers did not adequately take into account the government’s

commitments to tackle the climate crisis.

Times are changing and we must celebrate the victories and remember to take our

hats off to those who tirelessly campaign. Good on you Anti Heathrowers!


Earth Protector Towns (EPT) are a global collaborative movement of Towns to

protect the Earth, using an interactive process including specific goals and

guidelines.  In declaring itself an Earth Protector Town, a Council undertakes to

collaborate and cooperate with communities, local government bodies, businesses,

educational and other organisations to protect land, wildlife, air, soil and water.

The town is also publicly supporting the Stop Ecocide campaign which supports

the legal and diplomatic work to make Ecocide an international crime.


If you have not already seen this great work I highly encourage you to.

Each solution reduces greenhouse gases by avoiding emissions and/or by sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

Drawdown is a bold goal but an absolutely necessary one, given that global

emissions are still rising each year—not declining as they need to. Their new

analysis shows the world can reach Drawdown by mid-century, if we make the

best use of all existing climate solutions.

Good to know in order of priority what we need to focus on.


By placing the hybrid vertical axis wind turbine (including a solar panel on top of it)

on highways, ‘’Metrobus-lines’’ and other transportation lines as well as high-rise

residences , ENLIL will generate energy by using the winds created by the

vehicles as well as the natural winds.

Looks like a good idea…


Have we ever had such a moment? A moment for a forced, collective pause,

where society has collectively dropped out of society? In this time of uncertainty,

The Biomimicry Institute would like to offer an opportunity to try a new practice,

one built on reconnecting to nature.

What might we return to after 30 (or more) days of observing how a leaf works,

how a spider senses, how ants assign duties to one another, or how energy and

mass are linked in a perpetual life cycle dance?


Its not just the Caribbean that has an incredible underwater world.

Check out what is under the Great British ocean



These guys are on it !!!

Biohm is a multi-award-winning research and development led, bio-manufacturing

company. They allow nature to lead innovation, to revolutionise construction and

create a healthier, more sustainable, built-environment.  They are using mycelium

to create construction materials , dispose of plastic waste and so much more.

Looking for investment, this looks a great option.

Check out their brilliant video above



When so many are struggling for connection, inspiration and hope, Fantastic Fungi

brings us together as interconnected creators of our world.

Fantastic Fungi, directed by Louie Schwartzberg, is a consciousness-shifting film

that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical

earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.

Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets,

best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we

become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offers us

in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental



So folks that is it for now. I hope you have enjoyed the journey.

If anyone would like to help me, please reach out. I can now be found occasionally

on linked in and twitter so follow me there…

If you know anyone looking for a speaker then tell them about me. I give talks for

all sorts of organisations, businesses, festivals, schools and colleges.

I also give one-on-one environmental and personal guidance calls if you are

feeling you need a little direction and inspiration.

and if you feel moved to put your hand in your pocket to support me and my work

that would be much appreciated


Until next time – Enjoy this wonderful world and step it up in whatever way you can and do a little bit more.

To contact me and find out more see my websites www.nicolapeel.com and


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