Amazon nuts (Bertholletia excelsa), also known as Brazil nuts, are anative species from the high jungle area of the Amazon rainforest, and it is found principally in Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Madre de Dios is the only region in Peru where concentrations of Amazon nut trees are large enough for the sustainable extraction of their fruits. These trees can grow up to 50 meters, being one of the highest trees in the Amazon forest. They are essential in the conservation of Amazon rainforests since they can onlhy survive and produce in an unexploited jungle ecosystem.
Amazon nuts naturally regenerate thanks to the work a unique species of rodent, called South American Agouti, which is able to break the hard shell that contains the nuts. Once they satisfy their hunger, these rodents bury the remaining seeds, which germinate consequently, in a continuous cycle of reproduction, a process of natural regeneration.
According to the conceptualization of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Amazon nut forests belong to the category of forests with high conservation value (HCVF). They belong to this category because they are forest areas with significant concentrations of biodiversity value, home to rare ecosystems and species in danger of extinction and provide resources to the people who live around these areas (watershed protection, erosion control) and are fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities. It is because of this unique ecosystem that the region of Madre de Dios has won the title of "National Capital of Biodiversity".
The fruits of Amazon nut trees are round shaped coconut-like shells with 10 to 15 cm in diameter, in which grow nuts (seeds), wrapped in a hard, woody, but with a less thick shell. There are 18-20 nuts inside each coconut approximately.
Between December and March, the fruits start to fall from the trees. Amazon nut gatherers (known as castañeros) move to the middle of the Amazon forest, where they build their camps and roam vast areas of jungle in search of Amazon nuts. Subsequently, they open them with a machete, and place the seeds in sacks and take them to the processing plants in nearby cities such as Puerto Maldonado (Peru) in this particular case.
Through the Organic Programme, CANDELA contributes to the conservation of Amazon nut forests and their environmental and social value.