ABOUT BENKI PIYÃKO
The Yorenka Tasorentsi Institute is led by Benki Piyãko, a political and spiritual leader from the Ashaninka People, and a cultural and environmental activist within the global community. Benki is working for the rights and preservation of Forest Peoples, their cultures and lands, and for the regeneration and protection of nature.
Mentored from a young age by his grandfather, Samuel Piyãko, a revered shaman, he was guided to absorb the profound knowledge of Ashaninka traditions, medicinal plants, and spirituality. Today, he stands as a dedicated leader, wholeheartedly devoted to sharing this ancestral wisdom and healing the world.
Benki Piyãko embarked on his journey of reforestation, education and community development at a young age within his Ashaninka community, Apiwtxa. In 2006, with the support of friends and donors, he acquired deforested land in Marechal Thaumaturgo, where he and his team established the Yorenka Ãtame Center. In 2018, he founded the Yorenka Tasorentsi Institute, uniting spirituality with nature protection to advance his projects in environmental preservation, food security, and fostering ecological awareness to guide people towards a deeper connection with nature and a brighter future for our planet. Benki has collaborated with various institutions, non-profit organizations, global activists, and local Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities to restore degraded areas.
Benki Piyãko’s remarkable work has earned him recognition from global leaders and prestigious awards, including the Ashoka Fellowship. He was honored by the Brazilian Government for his dedication to human rights in 2004; he received the Human Rights award in Weimar, Germany, in 2013; and was awarded the Culture for Peace Award by the Chirac and Culture and Diversity Foundations in 2020. Additionally, he and his Ashaninka community received the United Nations Development Programme’s Equator Prize in 2017 for their collective environmental efforts.
Benki’s accomplishments, along with his team and community, are extensive:
- Nearby communities trained in agroforestry systems, impacting thousands of people;
- 60+ young locals participated in a major reforestation project;
- More than three million trees planted;
- 28 fish ponds created to develop a pisciculture system;
- 1000+ people treated at the healing center with traditional medicinal plants and techniques;
- Initial animal conservation of 15,000 turtles, 250 tortoises, monkeys, wild pigs and tapirs;
- 80 beehives (home to 80,000 bees) conserved;
- Support for the revival of lost traditional heritage of the Puyanawa, Kuntanawa, and Ashaninka peruvian communities;
- Fight against invasions into indigenous territories and the protection of the natural resources of the forests of the Ucayali in Peru and the Upper Juruá in Brazil, inspiring other organizations to join the fight and become allies.