Jun 9, 2011

'Tis the Season

It's now the rainy season here in Guatemala, and if you're a true EcoLogian, you know what the rainy season really means: Reforestation Season!

I'm writing to you from my apartment after a day of reforesting in Totonicapan, Guatemala. I'll tell you one thing: after spending a week with our field technicians in Honduras and hearing all their stories about planting trees and building fuel efficient stoves, it was really rewarding to get my hands dirty and to -- at least for a few hours -- experience the life of a "tecnico." If you remember from a previous post, EcoLogic manages 5 greenhouses (soon to be 8) in Totonicapan in the central highlands of Guatemala, where we work in partnership with the 48 Cantones to reforest watershed areas to help protect drinking water sources. The last time I blogged about this project, I had just visited the greenhouses and they were full of saplings. Well, this time around, hundreds of trees were gone! They're now planted in the forest, where they belong.

Today the EcoLogic team had the opportunity to participate in a reforestation activity in a community.  Typically, the village water committees schedule special events when a town, neighborhood or specific group commit the day to reforestation activities. Local people participate in part because a family's "payment" to the 48 Cantones for receiving water in their home is to volunteer their time to protect the area's watershed and fresh water resources. EcoLogic provides the trees and technical know-how to help make these efforts as productive and successful as possible. Today 120 young people from a local high school  -- the Escuela Noral Rural del Occidente (or ENRO) in Totonicapan -- came out to plant trees and learn about their watershed. Teachers at the school wanted the students to learn about the benefits of the forests in a hands-on manner. Of course, EcoLogic was happy to support this goal: Fernando, our field technician in Totonicapan, led the day's activities, providing a practical "how-to" session for the teachers and students, and showing them how and where to plant the arbolitos..
Fernando, a tecnico, explaing the process to students.

It was an awesome event. After a couple of hours in the forest, the students, teachers, Don Augustin (our greenhouse manager), Fernando, and I were able to plant about 1,500 saplings. There's another youth reforestation event tomorrow, as well, and Fernando is guiding that one, too. Oh yeah, and Fernando saved the GPS coordinates of the first tree that I planted so I can always know its exact latitude and longitude and come back and visit it, which I hope to do annually for the rest of my life! I named it Chris. You're surprised, right?

Okay, that's all I can manage for now. This is actually my last week working from the office in Xela. Next week I'll be visiting our project in Sarstun and after that I'll be in Honduras for our all staff retreat.

Hasta la proxima!

- Chris Patterson, Program Officer for EcoLogic
Chris collaborates closely with the senior program officer by writing grant proposals and project reports, investigating potential funders, and following trends in philanthropy, conservation, and international development. Chris was a fellow for the Ford Foundation's Difficult Dialogues Project and documented his time working from EcoLogic's regional office in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala from March to June, 2011. 

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