Planting pine tree saplings - the route found by the Gaviotas community to a productive and sustainable ecosystem. Photo © Michael Buick
Las Gaviotas: proving sustainable living possible where it shouldn't be
22nd June, 2010
How one Colombian community put wind turbines where they shouldn't have turned, water pumps where they shouldn't have worked, and planted a forest in soils thought long dead
The community of Las Gaviotas ('Gulls' in Spanish) is two days drive into the middle of nowhere.
Forty years ago a brilliant young dreamer, Paolo Lugari, decided that for once he wanted to see the sustainable dream made into reality, and while flying over the 'wet desert' of Los Llanos in his native Colombia was gripped by the vision that if you could live sustainably there you could do it anywhere. So, gathering a team of scientists, artists and indigenous Guahibo people, together they founded a community that has consistently achieved the impossible, innovating and adapting decade after decade.
Despite achieving an almost mythical status in the seventies and eighties, winning accolades and worldwide attention, Gaviotas has largely dropped off the sustainability radar, isolated by Colombia´s political violence. Until recently. I joined the first visit for years in March to see the remarkable place for myself.
Doing the impossible
Lugari is the undeniably charismatic founder of Gaviotas. A large-framed man, his solid features break easily into an infectious grin, betraying the childlike playfulness and...
To view the rest of this article - you must be a paying subscriber and Login
Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.