Friday, January 27, 2023

12,000 trees in seven years: the secret of some young people in El Salvador to save a historic hill

(CNN Spanish) — Cerro Tecana, which is struggling to survive amid the threats of fire and illegal logging, has a partner dedicated to planting trees to reforest the forest and primarily to bring about lasting change in the community. An example for El Salvador and beyond. boundaries.

Her name is Gabriela Guarrete and she is barely 26 years old. “Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to study nature. I studied biology, and throughout my career I’ve always felt the need to do projects to conserve biodiversity,” she told CNN.

He put his energy into Tecana, a cultural and historical symbol of Santa Ana, which each of its residents can recognize by the cross placed on its highest point. El Tecana has a double significance, he explains: on the one hand “it is a place of water recharge”, where the water that sustains life in the city comes from, and on the other, it is connected to a series of hills that surround Santa Ana. All around, it is a habitat and passageway for many species.

And Tekana is threatened. Forest fires and felling of trees, which are done with the aim of expanding crops in the area, have destroyed the hill and put at risk the vital resources it provides.

Faced with this reality, Gavrete proposed a solution. It is called “Forest Add”, and it aims for restoration through a process of reforestation with native trees in which the community itself participates. The biologist was recognized by the Global Landscape Forum, an organization that works on the restoration of ecosystems, by awarding six young people from around the world committed to the cause.

“Add a Forest” aims to integrate the local community into the reforestation initiative.

Why is your project so special? Gavarette points out that ecosystem restoration work involves applying technical knowledge and that’s what many initiatives focus on. “But focusing only on restoration work sometimes doesn’t yield the same results as focusing on working hand-in-hand with the community,” he says, and that’s what makes his project special: It brings the community Wants to provide resources so that they take ownership of the process.

The power of youth: turning ‘no’ into inspiration

To reforest Tekana hill, Gavarete contacted another young man with whom he had already shared working hours and who had been promoting similar works on the hill seven years earlier: Caleb Palilla. With a handful of friends, he created in 2015 the organization “Un Pulmon Mes”, which works for the protection of ecosystems and which already has a long history in Santa Ana.

In fact, in seven years, 12,000 trees have been planted on the hill and surrounding hills by combining the two initiatives.

“Our organization only works with young people because young people are the people who are told that they are not encouraged to create change, to create the change on our planet that will shape the future. The guarantee is essential,” he explains. “We hold the ideal of being able to create a better future for the near and far future.”

Donna Mars, other hero: “Cerro Tecana is a life for me”

Marcela de Jesus Saldana is 68 years old, has lived in the area for three decades, and has become a key figure in the restoration of the forest on Cerro Tecana to do the work.

“Cerro Tecana is a life for me,” he tells CNN. He works side by side with the members of Un Pulmon Mas and sets up a place to store donated trees to be planted. He always puts together and also makes snacks. “I feel very sad when they don’t come,” she says, because for her these young people are families.

The trees are also family, which he describes as children “adopted” through tears.

Marcela is one of the main protagonists of the project. He has given his time and his place in the service of his young comrades to make Tekana better.

An important piece of the nursery, Suma un Bosque

The project is working on building a community nursery on the land that will receive donated trees and in which specimens can be planted from seeds collected in the forest.

Community members, volunteers, university groups, and even companies interested in the project are working on building the nursery.

One of them is Mario César Contreras, who at only 13 years old has participated in tasks such as nailing holes and assisting with tools. Her father wanted her to get involved in some sort of activity, he made contact and what he found convinced her. “Little by little I was seeing that it was very beautiful,” he tells CNN. “I’m going to stay here.”

Contreras’ vision crosses the border of Cerro Tecana. “I think we’re doing good things to help not only the colony but the world, for our survival, and for us to be happy, that we don’t destroy but create.”

Mano a la obra: Step by step of a successful reforestation

The process of successful afforestation on a hill starts long before the trees are dug and ends at least three years later.

It is necessary, first of all, to have a list of native trees that can be planted on the hill, which has been put together with the help of experts, Gavarette explained. In addition, soil samples are taken to analyze the adaptability of the species to be grown.

Then it’s time to start operations: communicate the project, solicit donations, call for volunteers and finally get out on the field with them.

Pits are then dug and trees are planted using poles so that they have a guide to accompany their growth, depending on the slope of the site. In such a situation, they use organic fertilizers. Also, if there are cattle around then fencing is necessary at those places.

The work doesn’t end there: Then you have to do the maintenance, which lasts at least three years, the biologists explain. This involves systematically visiting planted trees, watering them if necessary, checking that all is well and replacing specimens if necessary.

Gabriella, Caleb and Marcella work tirelessly to create lasting change in Tekana. But they know they need more resources. Financing, Gabriela explained, is one of the objectives for the future. And in addition, they require that the government recognize the hill as a protected area, which would improve its management.

Their hopes are pinned on a better future, which they are currently building with their own hands.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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