Ep. 33: Marrow of the Mountain - Defending Biodiversity in Ecuador (feat. Dr. Roo Vandergrift)

Today we are graced by the presence of Dr. Roo Vandegrift - queer scientist, illustrator and producer of the forthcoming documentary film Marrow of the Mountain. Roo received his doctorate in mycology from the University of Oregon’s Institute of Ecology and Evolution, doing much of his dissertation work on the ecology of fungi at Los Cedros, in Ecuador. 

Please support Roo's documentary "Marrow of the Mountain": 
Help their team bring international attention to the threat posed by international mining companies to biodiversity and environmental health in Ecuador! 

Getting lost in the jungles of Ecuador, we find Roo Vandergrift crawling through the undergrowth of the Los Cedros bio-reserve performing fungal diversity surveys. Originally studying the genus xylaria, Roo quickly fell in love with Los Cedros and his relationship with this vibrant and powerful land would change his life forever.

Multinational mining companies have bought the rights to huge swaths of the country, leaving Ecuador’s most sensitive and biodiverse habitats at the mercy of international mining interests. This happened suddenly, and without public knowledge or consent. We witness the deep impact of extractive industry on Ecuadorian lives, as three women struggle to protect their families and communities whilst the land is being sold out from under their feet. Told in the powerful voices of Afro-Ecuadorian farmer Isabel Anangonó, indigenous leader Filomena Rosero, and scientist and activist Elisa Levy, and following a scientific expedition into the heart of the rainforest, this film explores the impact of mining on people's lives with both beauty and stark candor. How did the International Monetary Fund set in motion circumstances that would clear a path for giant Australian and Canadian mining corporations to gain access to mining territories, even in areas protected by environmental legislation? How is a pending Constitutional Court Case ruling pivotal in the future of protecting Ecuador's biodiversity from destructive mining?   

Due to the COVID-19 lockdowns all people, including activists, have been forced inside. This has allowed international mining companies to continue their illegal mining and environmental destruction without any resistance. These same lockdowns have also meant that the documentary has been set back. So the Marrow of the Mountain team needs all of our support on their new Kickstarter! Empower this documentary activism and help defend biodiversity. 

Episode Resources 
Marrow of the Mountain Documentary Website: https://marrowofthemountain.com/   
Roo Vandergrift IG: https://www.instagram.com/werdnus_roo/ 
Reserva Los Cedros: https://reservaloscedros.org/ 
OMASNE: https://www.facebook.com/OMASNE/ 
Spatial Ecology of the Fungal Genus Xylaria in Cloud Forests (article): https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/btp.12273


  • “I don’t know what the phd is going to do for my life, but I think the process is going to be good for me.” I hear that.

    christopher r. peck
  • Puhpowee


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published