In December, EcoLogic Program Officer Chris Patterson took a trip down to the communities of Ixcán and Sarstún Guatemala to meet some of the farmers currently working with and incorporating agroforesty into their farm land. While there, he collected data on how their plants are growing. From 5:00 in the morning until to 8:00 at night, Chris and a team of dedicated staff, field experts, and interns met with farmers, toured the land, and compiled data on how the trees were growing.
The team randomly selected 15 inga trees per plot for recording tree height and growth. Inga is the type of tree used on these agroforestry plots. By integrating inga into their agriculture, farmers can reduce erosion, provide a source of organic fertilizer, maintain a healthy climate for crops, and increase yield thus reducing the need to clear more forests for agricultural lands. If trees were chest height, the team took the diameter and a small soil sample to have a baseline of the soil quality before the trees reach maturity.
By taking advantage of the natural benefits of trees, small-scale farmers can use agroforestry to produce more using less land, easing their burden while improving their crops. We’ll continue to keep you up to date on our activities around the growing agroforestry plots in Guatemala.
In the coastal towns of Punta Alegre and Puerto Lara in the Gulf of San Miguel, Panama, EcoLogic recently held a community workshop on: "Why and How to Plant Trees." The workshop highlighted the benefits of reforestation especially the reforestation of watersheds. Workshops like this allow communities to learn the process and rationale behind reforesting, and reinforce their interest in participating in the project. Through education and learning exchanges, the communities of San Miguel are learning how to preserve their watershed and improve their own well being. Our work in Panama is just another way we are connecting the dots between the health of the planet and its people.
The relationship between forest conservation and water provision is central to EcoLogic’s work in this region, as it is positioned at the very intersection of environmental conservation and meeting people’s needs. Workshops that engage people in the technical know-how as well as the real-life application of reforestation provide the communities with long-term solutions and reliable access to clean water.
EcoLogic and our local implementing partner, the Pico Bonito Southern Sector Water Council Association (AJAASSPIB), have continued to make great strides in promoting the conservation and reforestation of watersheds. Recently, we have moved forward with our environmental awareness campaign in the city of Olanchito and surrounding in an effort titled “Operación Stiker,” (Sticker Operation, in English). The effort is primarily led by students from the Regional University of the Aguán Valley. This group is committed to spread the word about protecting the watershed by passing out stickers to other students and community members. During the group’s first meeting they designed a logo and created 2,000 tri-folds expressing the importance of protecting the Uchapa-Pimienta subwatershed. So far we have printed 3,500 stickers, 500 pamphlets, 50 tee shirts, and 50 hats with the Uchapa-Pimienta campaign logo. These materials help engage local people in the stewardship of water resources.
Our work with AJAASSPIB demonstrates the willingness of local communities to become a part of conservation efforts. We have seen that conservation and restoration of forested microwatersheds - where communities rally around water sources and the forests that sustain them - is an effective catalyst for engaging local people and providing access to water. This approach of working at the most local of scales ensures that participating communities develop a sense of ownership vital to successful, long-term conservation. We look forward to disseminating the rest of the materials and continuing our work with the communities of Olanchito.