Amazon adventure for Durham student

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ADVENTUROUS student Deepesh Patel is back on home soil after delving deep into South American rainforests.

The Durham University student has spent the summer exploring the medicinal properties of plants in the forests.

The trip involved Deepesh, 19, carrying out research in the Peruvian Amazon under the Canopy to Cures project.

The aim of the project is to research the potential of medicinal plants of the rainforest and the threats posed to them by climate change.

Deepesh said: “The forest in the Peruvian Amazon is amazingly diverse. We found lots of evidence of endangered species in Manu National Park, and it was great to learn about the uses of plants.

“We did so much in the six and a half weeks we were there. The best bits were definitely getting the chance to see the rare species and the amazing birds in the Amazon.

“We filmed so much while we were out there which is absolutely fantastic and we got the chance to speak to some of the communities about medicinal plants.

“More than a third of medicine is made from plants in the rainforest and so is two thirds of cancer treatment, which is why I think it is important to tell people.

“I’m grateful to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for giving me this extraordinary opportunity.”

Canopy to Cures was established by the second year natural sciences student and his friend Raghd Rostom, 19, after winning the National Science and Engineering Competition in 2010.

While in Peru, Deepesh mapped distributions of medical plants in the rainforest in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, as well as visiting indigenous Andean communities in villages to speak to people about their reliance on medicinal plants in their rainforest.

Deepesh and Raghd will be running a outreach project, based on their findings, with schools in the North East.

Click here for more information on Canopy to Cures.