WHY ARE WE DOING IT?
Human and Environmental Interactions
In completing this journey we aim to learn sustainable living techniques from indigenous populations along the route. People who have been living in harmony with the forest for centuries. Many of us in the "West" have become detached from nature and the team believe this is not only detrimental for the environment but also to our mental health. Indigenous practices learned on the expedition will be used to formulate our Summit to Sea Charity ethos and from there we hope to share our unique sustainability message. Let's take a step back into the past and rediscover the respect we once had for an environment that enables all...
Opportunities for adventure are the only things that'll keep a lot of us sane in a world dominated by smart phones and apps. Humans have been evolving with a risk of early death for 60 000 years, and up until not too long ago we'd be lucky to go to bed at night having not been in a struggle for life that day. We defied death regularly or succumbed to it. Now in the west, we grow old and rarely toil. There's obviously a lot of positives to living long and comfortably, but are we missing something? What do we have to fill the huge gap that is no longer filled with death defying adrenalin? For some of us, going to uncontrolled, unexplored and potentially hostile environments to test ourselves and learn, is a necessity. It sets us the most simple of purposes; To Survive.
We believe that the only way to achieve real adventure is with the existence of wilderness. An environment that has been entirely moulded by nature and the effects of evolution. A wilderness is a wild place that wants to kill us at every turn, and yet rewards us by providing us with nourishing foods, overwhelming sights, thrilling opportunities, and even medicines. It's an environment that we should not be afraid of but instead attempt to understand. Learning from natives will help us avoid the dangers and make the most of the rewards. But, our relationship with wilderness has to be symbiotic, if we take we must give back. With our cognitive abilities, we have a responsibility not to exploit. If we as a species can understand this, we'll be emulating the traditions of the natives in these areas who have been coexisting with nature since their histories began.
We want to convey that this expedition is not about conquering anything. We see too many accounts today of tourists on their high-horses ‘conquering’ challenges at great expense to locals, wildlife and bank balances. We are privileged individuals with an extreme amount of opportunities. We will not conquer. We will learn, we’ll grow, we’ll help, we’ll appreciate, we’ll soak it up. We will live and, dare we say it? We’ll achieve. We will not dwell when we make mistakes, we’ll learn so we can succeed. But that success, although self-invigorating in the making, hopefully isn’t just for us. With all that we in the west have, the least resourceful humans our race has ever seen, a little less conquering and a little more humbleness in our achievements is in order.
Everyone has their own mental difficulties that have stemmed from different experiences. Just because someone looks strong on the outside doesn't mean they're not battling hard on the inside. This is something that thankfully is finally becoming recognised and talked about within military circles. This adventure is undoubtedly a test of character, but importantly it's also an opportunity to build character. The best bonds are created when hardship is shared and these bonds lead to healthy and open conversations. We aim to show that there is a direct link between human mental wellbeing and the natural environment. We want the idea of this link to encourage people to get active together in the great outdoors. Appreciation of wild places can only become stronger when we interact. We want to show that this basic interaction makes us feel better.
We hope to gain as many donations as possible for the Royal Marines Charity, RV1UK and Rainforest Concern. We hope the hardship we endure along the river will equate to funding from the generous public, that we can give to these important causes.
Royal Marines Charity: Our Vision: Giving a lifetime of support to the Royal Marines Family – Once a Royal Marine, always a Royal Marine.
Rainforest Concern: Our mission is to protect threatened natural habitats and the biodiversity they contain, together with the indigenous people dependant on them for survival.
RV1UK: RV1UK focuses on social interaction and outdoor activities. We provide a safe platform for people to talk about their mental health injuries and daily struggles.
The history of South American discovery is fascinating. Here's a short account of the first known navigation of the Amazon:
When conquistador Francisco de Orellana entered the Amazon in 1542, it gained its modern name. The Spanish explores were unable to return up stream on the Coca River in eastern Ecuador and were forced to follow the flow into larger rivers, deeper into the rain forest.
On this journey they encountered and battled with many tribes, including the Tapuyas, who’s warrior women were described by Orellana as Amazons.
Orellana and his men made it to the mouth after 7 months and thus proved the navigability of the river, essentially turning it into a highway for future European settlers. The conquistadors were unforgivably brutal in their colonialist methods, a travesty that should never be forgotten. But one cannot help but find respect for the courage, resourcefulness and sense of adventure found in these early explorers and their achievements. We'd like to follow their route for a while, substituting the colonialism for some mutually rewarding experiences with the locals.
Throughout the expedition we intend to collect recordings from frogs. After analysing the data we can determine which species are found in areas along the entirety of our 5000km journey. These indicator species can tell us valuable information about the health of the river system and we can weigh this information against surrounding land uses, thus determining what human causes are contributing to biodiversity decline.
The Amazon has an incredibly rich ecosystem – there are around 40,000 plant species, 1,300 bird species, 3,000 types of fish, 430 mammals and a whopping 2.5 million different insects. – These figures just keep on growing as our research techniques improve.
Deforestation in Brazil was 5 times greater in January 2022 that it was in the same month in 2021. This trajectory spells disaster for many species that rely on the forest.
Not only does this damage wildlife but it causes the slow erosion of local traditions and cultures as industry and agriculture replace forest life.
Is the “sea of green” that John's father described in 1968 when he paddled the Amazon going to be there in 2023 or are we already too late?
Many of us are lucky enough to enjoy childhoods filled with outdoor adventures but we know that this isn't the case in all households. "Having volunteered for Venture Scotland, hiking, teaching and camping with underprivileged young adults, I realised that wilderness can give something positive to absolutely anybody." Expedition leader John.
We hope that in documenting our expedition we can encourage people of all backgrounds to get back in touch with the great outdoors and do it responsibly.
On our expedition team we need everyone to have the confidence to share their views. The more diverse a team, the wider the skillset. We appreciate the importance for equality and reject labels and this ethos inspires confidence within our team members. Anyone who wants to help with environmental projects is welcome in the Summit to Sea Charity community.