Dear Forest Guardians,
Greetings from the rainforest and we hope you are staying safe? Tough times continue, but one day they will pass, and the trees that you helped us plant will be flourishing. Thank you, dear donors, for that! And we want to send a special thank you to all our new donors this month. A big welcome to you all, and we are so happy to have you on board. You're all invited to visit us one day when you can. Your hammocks await!
Before we go any further we have an important announcement. Giving Tuesday December 1st is coming soon and we’d love to invite you to join us. This year GlobalGiving has a million dollars in matching funds, so just think how far that will stretch your donation, and how many trees that will help us to plant! Please alert all colleagues, family and friends and let’s make this the best Giving Tuesday ever!
So what’s new from Forests4Water? Well first and foremost, the planting season is upon us. And today a group of Iracambi foresters is off visiting some of the local farms to make sure that the ground is cleared, the holes are dug and fertilized and ready for the young trees.
It’s been raining hard, and as usual that means that it’s hard to follow the sort of chronogram that we’d like in a perfect world – life isn’t quite that easy in the rainforest! We’re at the beginning of the rainy season and the rains are heavy and frequently accompanied by lightning storms. This means that many of the roads become temporarily impassable and we have short-term interruptions to both power and the internet, making communications virtually impossible. (And did I tell you the cell phone service here is precarious at best?) So you can see that coordinating transport and manpower to coincide with a day when the weather and the roads are collaborating and the farmers are available, all requires considerable flexibility, not to mention a sense of humor!
But it’s all good – the trees are all separated in the nursery, we have a record of which farmers want which trees, and we’re also working with the first three farm families who are interested in setting up their own forest nurseries. Interestingly, some families that had previously moved into the local small town to have easier access to schools and health facilities, are moving back onto their farms and are happy to be able to involve their children in activities such as forest nurseries!
So we’ll tell you more in our next letter, and in the meantime please take care of yourselves, and so many thanks for your support. Together we’re building the forests of the future!
with rainforest love,
Alfredo and Deivid
Dear Forest Guardians,
Greetings from the rainforest and we hope you are staying safe. These are tough times, but one day they will pass, and the trees that you helped us plant will be flourishing. What a comforting thought!
In our last letter, we told you that the rains have arrived and that means that our forestry work is full-on! And because the rains have just recently arrived, we're still singing and not yet grumbling!
Down in the nursery, we’re collecting seeds like crazy, identifying them, germinating them, and thinking about next year's forests. At the same time, we’re preparing this year’s planting and separating out the seedlings that are ready to be planted out. It’s always a bit of a shock for them to be thrown out into the big world, without the tender loving care to which they’ve become accustomed, so we’re starting the process of hardening them off.
Many of them will be planted on areas of degraded pasture, so we need to select species that can better tolerate sunlight, as well as a mixture of pioneer and climax species. Others will be planted in boggy areas so they need to able to tolerate having their feet wet (as it were!).
We’ve already started preliminary visits to the farms where we'll be reforesting, and we’re thrilled to report that in some cases we’ll be working in areas contiguous to secondary forests so that we’ll be creating and extending forest corridors. Great to extend the forest fragments and great to create corridors for habitat – this is exactly one of our main forest restoration goals.
And, one more thing. This year, because of covid19, we don’t have our usual resident crew of overseas students and volunteers. So we’re inviting local volunteers to join us for any period from a week to a month, to get involved in one of our best-loved activities. (All activities take place outdoors, and we'll be complying with local directives: being socially distanced and wearing masks.) Not only is tree planting a lot of fun, (yes, and a lot of hard work!) but it’s a great learning experience and a great way to make new friends. We’re just opening up volunteer opportunities, and so far we have a lot of interest.
So we’ll sign off here, and in our next letter, we’ll tell you how our volunteer recruitment program is going. And we’ll also catch you up on our new initiative of setting up individual nurseries on individual farms.
Please take care of yourselves, and so many thanks for your support. Together we’re building the forests of the future!
With rainforest love from
Deivid and Alfredo (and Arielle, who, as we told you, just can’t stay away from the forestry programs!)
PS We wanted to just give you a quick heads up. One of the trees we'll be planting near the Center is in memory of one of our much loved Iracambistas. So, if you'd like us to plant a tree for a new baby, a birthday present, or in honor of someone special, please let us know!
Dear Forest Guardians,
Greetings from the rainforest and we hope you are doing well?
Our big news is that the rains have come! It's spring time, everything is turning green and flowering, there's a wonderful scent of wet earth and the evening chorus of the frogs is practically deafening.
And I bet you'd like to know what's going on here at Iracambi!
Remember we told you we have a new coordinator – Alfredo? Well, he’s been working hard alongside Deivid in the nursery and learning about the different varieties of seedlings. Both guys have been spending time in the forest collecting seeds, since it’s the perfect time of year to do that. And they’re making seedlings as fast as they can.
All that on top of the regular nursery work: making compost, weeding the seed beds, and of course the watering. (Although it’s a whole lot easier now that the rains are settling in.)
And we do have an exciting new activity in the works. We’re starting to talk to some of the local farmers about the possibility of setting up small forest nurseries on their farms. (To date we've been donating trees from our own nursery, but we want to show them how easy it is to do, and encourage them to think of having a small tree nursery - maybe in their vegetable garden - as part of the farm economy.) We’re focusing on families with children so that we can include environmental education as part of the package. Since the kids are out of school due to the lockdown, this is a great moment for us to combine our two passions: reforestry and education.
By the time we next write, we should have some red hot news on that front and we’ll be sure to let you know!
One more thing before we go. Would you be able to share the link to our project on your social media? https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/forests-4-water/ We’re just starting a big funding drive and we’d love to find more monthly donors. (Sneak peek, we're calling them Humming Birds and we've got some surprises in store.)
Talk soon, take care of yourselves, and THANK YOU for your generous donations!
Alfredo, Arielle and Deivid
Dear Forest Guardians
How are you doing?
Here in the forest, we’re still in partial lockdown on account of covid19.
And since we have no volunteers (who are always a HUGE help,) and haven’t had any since March, we’re seriously short of helping hands. Which means that everything is affected: our forest restoration program, our forest nursery, our site maintenance, and gardening, and our farm visits.
But the Iracambi team is back working in person - observing strict safety protocols, of course. And now is the moment to reinvent our programs and keep going.
So let’s give you the good news from this quarter since behind every crisis there’s an opportunity and doors are always opening. It’s a good moment for reflection and finding some inner peace, right?
After a cold snap that froze our fingers and toes, it’s now boiling hot. Could that be anything to do with climate change? That’s a long conversation for another time….
But I’m really happy to report that, after a long period of rural exodus, our mountain community is growing again. Young people are buying land round here and the cool thing is that they all have great plans; reforestry, agroecology, and working together.
This year we’re aiming to plant 4500-5000 native species seedlings and, in this rural community of Graminha, we already have a list of people wanting to help us with the planting: Carla, Leandro, Luiz, Bruno, Everaldo, and more. Maybe we’ll be able to plant a new forest corridor?
And now for a newsflash. This is likely to be the last time you’ll hear directly from me, Arielle. I was recently promoted to the post of Project Coordinator and we’ve hired a new forestry coordinator: Alfredo. Maybe some of you already know him – he was born and raised here in Graminha. He knows everyone, he’s a good communicator, and we’re training him up on the job. We decided to hire someone from the community (like me, I was born in Rosário da Limeira) and I feel that the fact that I’m from the local community helps a lot when looking for people to help with the planting. Since it’s a community project, what better than having a community member running it?
But don’t worry, you’ll still see me in the photos and taking part in the activities!
This month of September, Alfredo, Deivid, and I will start visiting the farms (we’ll be wearing our masks and socially distancing, and sadly the usual coffee and chatting will have to wait until the pandemic is over!)
We recently started having a handful of volunteers from the local community on Thursdays to help in the nursery. And this has been a great help since there is so much to do, weeding, filling bags for the seedlings, walking the forest trails to collect seeds, planting seeds – as you know there’s plenty of work and it’s all delightful in the fresh air!
We’ve also been sprucing up the nursery, the water tank was about to fall down so Deivid worked with builder Milton to fix it. We also mowed the grass and the place looks wonderful. Over the past weeks, we collected seeds from ten different species, avocado, papaya, custard apple, and others, dug a lot of earth for filling the bags, carried on composting, germinated the seeds, made 2000 seedlings, kept up the watering (every second day) cleared out the weeds, and made a list of all the seedlings ready for the planting season.
And we also managed to keep up with the monitoring. We keep in touch with the farmers to see how they are doing, whether they need anything, and we ask them to send us photos of the areas they reforested – so that we can ensure they are looking after the trees! But we’re longing to return to our normal activities, and see the survival rate, which species adapt best, how the seedlings are growing, whether they are being attacked by ants, and so on. Check out the photos they sent. (And please forgive the quality of the photos – that depends on the farmers’ level of skill!)
And so, dear donors, we want to thank you once again for your support. As you know, we couldn’t do it without you. The rainforest thanks you! And we’re now sending out a brand new monthly newsletter. Check our latest edition, and please sign up by clicking here.
And we wish you all good health and lots of courage,
Arielle and the Iracambi team
Dear Forest Guardians
How are you doing?
With this covid we are all in some sort of lockdown, right? We at Iracambi have been in total lockdown since the end of March. (But the rainforest is a great place to be locked down in!)
And work doesn’t stop. We had a lot of rain during planting season, remember? What we need to do now is check on how all the baby trees are doing, and whether they are being well cared for by the farmers. We need to check on the survival rates, figure out which species are adapting best, and ensure that the baby trees are being weeded and protected from ant attacks.
We did our last monitoring with our students shortly before lockdown. It’s hard work, but the students love it, and they love meeting the farmers and, after the day’s work, drinking delicious coffee, eating cornbread and jumping into the nearest waterfall. It’s a great experience for everyone, farmers and students alike, and of course it’s so gratifying to see the trees growing and bare fields turning into young forests. Not forgetting seeing springs running clearer and stronger than ever.
Then came lockdown.
How to check on our trees? We decided to ask the farmers to do the monitoring themselves. Send us pictures, share any problems with us, keep us in touch. Of course we don’t get as much information as if we were going there, but ít turns out to be a very good strategy. Sometimes they ask us to wait a week, so that they’ll have a chance to do the weeding!
So this form of monitoring is pretty successful, and we’ll certainly incorporate it in future planting seasons. Although there’s nothing like a personal visit, once in a while.
In the meantime, work in the nursery doesn’t stop. Seeds need to be collected, sorted and planted. Seedlings transplanted into plastic sacks, compost made, seed tables maintained, and of course there’s the watering. That takes two hours with two people, every other day.
This quarter we’ve collected seeds from 20 species and planted them, watered them, weeded them and loved them, so rainforest lockdown is never dull!
And one more thing.
You probably know that we work hard with the local community on environmental policy issues. One of these is connected with preserving our high biodiversity forest areas from mining. We’ve set up a facebook page and an online petition, and we’re excited that more and more people are determined to protect the forests that you, dear supporters, are helping to restore.
Well, I reckon I’ve brought you up to date. This was an unusual quarter, but, like so many of us we’ve learned to adjust! And we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you all!
We wish you all health and courage to keep going as we get through these hard times together.
Arielle and the Iracambi team
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