Topsoil erosion prevents the growth of trees.
Wildlife Alliance’s Tropical Reforestation Project has taken another step towards fulfilling its goal of reconnecting fragmented and depleted rainforest in the Southern Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong province. In January, Reforestation staff built a canal in Tatai to mitigate topsoil erosion that prevented the growth of trees and plants in the planting fields.
Topsoil erosion is one of the leading concerns in rainforest reforestation efforts - especially in an area known to have been denuded through slash-and-burn farming like the Southern Cardamoms. Slash-and-burn cultivation destroys the top layer of soil, making it useless for planting after one growing season. This means that slash-and-burn farmers move on each season, destroying more forest and leaving it unable to support future flora. With topsoil washing away during the yearly monsoon season because it is unprotected from the rains due to both slash-and-burn and illegal logging, the forest area is left effectively destroyed for the future. The Tropical Reforestation Project aims to reverse these practices and restore continuous forest cover while providing a sustainable livelihood to local community members who once destroyed the forest.
Maintaining topsoil has plagued our reforestation project since its inception in 2009. In the absence of nutrient-rich topsoil, plant life struggles to grow and ceases to exist. Therefore, it can be nearly impossible to grow new trees in areas subject to topsoil erosion, which is widespread in this particular region. But, with the expertise of Wildlife Alliance and our Tropical Reforestation staff, topsoil erosion is becoming less of a limitation. In Tatai specifically, topsoil erosion was hampering any viable reforestation effort. However, in January, tractor plows dug water drainage canals at the site. Now, water is prevented from flowing across the fields during the monsoon season, thus allowing trees and plants to grow healthily. To date, Wildlife Alliance has replanted more than 733,000 trees in this region. Through new projects and lessons learned, like the implementation of drainage canals, we are continually helping to ensure these trees can grow and mature, and eventually restore forest cover in the Southern Cardamoms.
Southern Cardamom Forest