In this five-part story discover how Indigenous and scientific knowledge about plants past and present can drive research that improves planetary health in the future. Nataly Allasi Canales guides you through a personal journey beginning in the Peruvian Amazon of her home, where she found her passion for biodiversity and traditional knowledge. Follow her through the case of the fever tree, and other botanicals used by Indigenous peoples for medicinal purposes; botanic gardens, where valuable specimens can be found; and historical genomes as snapshots of evolution and ecology. Finally, Nataly argues that to sustain the public health, biodiversity and food security of the future, we must act soon.
In the introduction to her serial, research biologist Nataly Allasi Canales charts the influences that led her to passion for preserving the species of the Peruvian Amazon, where she spent her childhood.
The forest of the Amazon Basin is inextricably bound up with the lives of the Indigenous peoples living there. Find out how they feel about the forest, use what it provides, and try to protect it from aggressive commercial exploitation.
A bark specimen at Kew recalls the story of a South American man who harvested the most potent source of the only effective malaria treatment available in the late 1800s. Killed for his work and forgotten by history, Manuel Mamani was a victim of the colonial juggernaut.
Starting with the humble potato, Nataly Allasi Canales reveals how researchers unearth the genetic origins of modern plant varieties, and explains why their work is so important for biodiversity.
About the contributors
Nataly Allasi Canales
Dr Nataly Allasi Canales is a researcher and environmentalist at heart. Originally from the Peruvian Amazon, her aim is to unravel evolutionary histories of important organisms from her hometown, and by doing so she also aims to empower the local communities with science. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen.
Cat O'Neil is an award winning freelance illustrator, specialising in editorial. She studied at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2011, and has lived in Hong Kong, London, Glasgow, Lyon and Edinburgh. Her clients include the New York Times, Washington Post, WIRED, LA Times, Scientific American, the Financial Times, the Guardian/Observer, Libération and more. Her work explores the use of visual metaphors to convey concept and narrative, and combines the use of traditional and digital mediums. Much of her recent work includes the creation of 3D paper sculptures, which are made in her studio in Edinburgh.