April and Kevin in Kuna Yala, the northeast coast of Panamá

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Reforestation....the first steps

One of the projects that we are working on on the isla is reforestation of areas around streams and natural springs. Reforestation will help protect them from solar evaporation. Having trees around them really aids in conservation of water and minimizes erosion contamination. Most of the community has problems with having access to water at some point in the 4-5 months of the annual dry season...so this is a big issue for them.

Well, we officially (and literally) broke ground on May 8th. Together with 6 of our Panamanian friends we filled almost 500 1-liter size nursery bags (supplied by the ANAM, the environmental agency) with a mixture of good soil and fertilizer (supplied by ANAM as well). We used chemical fertilizer this time but next time we will have finished compost and use that compost instead. We are not using compost right now because we only have the humanure compost that is close to ready...and we have garden plans for that.

We filled the bags by breaking up the topsoil in a very nice spot near our house. We then measured out 25 gallons of soil with 5 gallon buckets (the regular measuring tool here) and mixed in 1 lb of chemical fertilizer. We mixed it just like it was concrete and then gathered round and stuffed it into bags until they were bien lleno (good ´n full).
(Filling bags with community members)
(Storing bags on a cleared spot just behind our house)

Filling the bags took us all about 4 hours. We were lucky to have a cloudy morning to work in and the temperatures were nice until the sun broke out in the final hour. We also had one man working with us that kept up a constant and funny conversation...his talking did more good for the morning's work than his hands...but everyone does what they are good at right?
(The completed bags - some more are out of site in the front row - and the workers)
The next step in the process is to plant the tree seeds. Large seeds will go straight into the bags, and small seeds will get planted into sand and only the strong sprouts will get transplanted into bags. We will raise them in bags for about 4 months to give them a good head start and then transplant them out into the land around the fuentes de agua (water sources). If planted by the end of August or early September they should have enough time to establish good roots before the dry season arrives again.

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