15th Anniversary of La Bendici√≥n

by Lucas Wolf, Assistant International Director

Today¬†marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of one of our keystone communities, La Bendici√≥n, in southeastern Guatemala. This community served as a gateway for us when we sought to deepen our presence in Guatemala through our local partner, The Association for Community Forestry, Utz Ch√© (translates as ‚ÄúGood Tree‚ÄĚ in the Kaqchiquel language). Utz Ch√© introduced Trees, Water & People (TWP) to La Bendici√≥n with hopes that we could develop a long-term relationship to address some of the long-term challenges the community faces, such as agrarian debt, isolation and lack of livelihood opportunities.

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Women of the La Bendición community cooking.

La Bendición was founded on June 7th, 2000 by two indigenous communities that were displaced by the armed conflict in the 1990s in western Guatemala. They were relocated to an abandoned and defunct coffee plantation in the southeastern part of the country and were passed a bill for the value of the land, as assessed by the government. The discrepancy between the valuation of the land and what they received would characterize the next 14 years of their community’s existence. They have fought for dismissal of this over-inflated debt so they could get on with learning how to live separated from their ancestral land and people.

Last year, which marked my first year with TWP, I was fortunate enough to visit the community on three different occasions. My first week with TWP, March 2015, I joined our International Director, Sebastian Africano on a work trip with 16 other participants from all over the U.S. It was a huge success and served as a great introduction to the critical partnership building and community development that are a hallmark of TWP¬īs development model. Then, in October, I made an individual visit to work with Oswaldo Mauricio Orozco, who is both one of the community¬īs main youth group leaders and the Coordinator for Campesino Exchanges at Utz Ch√©. During that visit, we analyzed lessons learned from the March work trip in preparation for the then-upcoming December-January work trip with the Geller Center and Unity of Fort Collins. These groups also had a tremendous experience during their time in the community.

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The work group from the Geller Center and Unity of Fort Collins learning about coffee farming.

Our efforts at La Bendición are ongoing, with continued support in many strategic areas, including:

Agroforestry and apiculture¬†– helping to strengthen and deepen the community¬īs commitment to strengthening the full life cycle of the forest and diversifying livelihoods with value-added products.

Sustainable agriculture Рwhile coffee remains the principal cash crop, pineapple plots have increased exponentially and they are now focused on commercialization and marketing of these high-quality fruits.

Capacity building and leadership Рsupporting the youth group in its efforts to lead on agriculture, livelihoods and forestry through important trainings and opportunities for education and professional growth.

Community forestry and ecotourism¬†– from its founding, La Bendici√≥n¬īs leaders realized how important the surrounding forest is and they have worked tirelessly to manage the buffer zone with an eye toward conserving forest health. Ecotourism proposals and concepts are currently underway and the renovation of the main community center was a focus of the last work trip¬īs efforts.

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Harvesting pineapple in La Bendición.

Help us celebrate the anniversary of this special community by donating to our efforts to install 500 stoves in three Utz Ché communities over the next two months. We are currently raising funds to complete the installation of these stoves with an eye toward expanding the project to Utz Ché’s network of 40+ indigenous partner communities across Guatemala. La Bendición is one of these communities, and we are excited to continue to support them as they continue on a path of sustainable development, autonomy, and prosperity.

Feliz Aniversario!

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15,000 Trees Have a New Home

This year‚Äôs planting season has been a great success so far! With the 15,000 ponderosa pines in the ground, thanks to the hard work of 39 Native Americans, Trees, Water & People (TWP) has beaten our previous year‚Äôs planting by 5,000 trees ‚Äď and that‚Äôs just the start! For 2016, our goal is to plant 17,000, however, we wiped out the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery‚Äôs supply of ponderosas with our 15,000 order! So, we will be patiently waiting for the remaining 2,000 trees to sprout. This is all part of TWP‚Äôs goal to plant 1 million trees on tribal lands over the next several years.

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The planting crew gearing up to plant 15,000 ponderosa seedlings.

TWP’s Tribal Reforestation project came about a few years ago in response to several wildfires that severely impacted Tribal lands in southern South Dakota. It is estimated that 20,000 acres of ponderosa forests were lost, with very few seed trees surviving to naturally replant the forest. That‚Äôs why we‚Äôre working to help put the ‚Äúpine‚ÄĚ back in Pine Ridge! Planting the ponderosas will improve air and water quality, reduce soil erosion, re-establish wildlife habitat, enhance ecosystem resiliency, and sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gases all while engaging Native Americans in the protection of their lands.

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Putting the “pine” back in Pine Ridge!

There to capture all the action on film was a videographer from Vision Makers Media. This Native-operated filmmaking organization empowers and engages Native Peoples to tell stories. They envision a world changed and healed by understanding Native stories and the public conversations they generate. We’re excited to be teaming up with Vision Makers Media to show you the progress of our reforestation efforts. With their 40 years of experience, we know you will enjoy the captivating footage of the scenic plains. Stay tuned for the video in the coming months!

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The tree planting dream team!

If you would like to help us plant trees on the Pine Ridge and Rose Bud Reservations, please make a donation to our Tribal Reforestation program.

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Project Update: El Salvador Tree Nursery Finds New Home

Ampliación de ingreso al terreno

In 2001, we formed a partnership with environmental conservation leaders in El Salvador, who created Arboles y Agua para El Pueblo (AAP) to address natural resource issues within the country. The organization is led by Armando Hernandez and his dedicated staff who work tirelessly to protect the precious natural resources of El Salvador.

Over the past year, the AAP team has been working to construct a new tree nursery in El Porvenir, with a capacity of 40,000-50,000 trees. The new nursery will go online in January of 2016.

Armando writes (as translated by Sebastian Africano):

“Since the beginning of December we have proceeded with site preparations to install the nursery, including the leveling of the surface via the provision of additional soil and compaction. Some of the soil purchased will be used for filling bags, for which we‚Äôve hired auxiliary personnel. Additionally, we have gone out to cut and haul bamboo for posts and pillars to support the shade cloth over the nursery. Finally, we repaired and fortified the entry to the site, and are soliciting our connection to the municipal water system for irrigation.

Siembra de Huertas y √°rboles aleda√Īo al cerco del terreno

During this period we will be dedicated to transferring and installing our new nursery, which requires that we contemplate the area that will be dedicated to the trees themselves, as well as the area we will use to grow squash, chayote and other foods and flowers that attract beneficial insects, like bees, and keep pests away from the seedlings.

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In terms of the infrastructure that we intend to install, we will include a shed space to deposit equipment, tools, materials and agricultural inputs (fertilizers, fungicides) needed in the nursery. We want to be sure to reserve a space for a staff person that will eventually stay at the site and care for the nursery and the assets onsite. We are in the process of designing the layout of the terrain with its associated budget, and making sure that the nursery will not be disturbed during the construction of the other components.”

Working with such a dedicated team of environmentalists in El Salvador has been an honor for our staff. To date, the AAP team has planted nearly 700,000 trees throughout the country. With this new nursery, we look forward to what the future holds for AAP and TWP.

To support TWP’s Reforestation efforts in El Salvador and throughout Central America and Haiti please¬†click here.

Corporate Partner Spotlight: Project 7

Zoila Viverista, mostrando un Chaquiro con 18 días de germinación
Project 7 donations support our reforestation efforts throughout Central America and Haiti, including the El Porvenir tree nursery (pictured) in El Salvador.

We love working with innovative and socially responsible companies that are committed to conserving the Earth’s natural resources. Project 7 is one of these unique businesses with a clear mission to “Save the Earth” and a long history of generosity in support of that mission.

Project 7 and Trees, Water & People (TWP) have been partnering to “Save the Earth” since 2011. As a reforestation¬†partner, TWP works with Project 7 to plant hundreds of thousands of trees each year. With their continued support, TWP plants over 50 species of trees in 5 different countries throughout Latin America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Haiti). These trees help restore local watersheds, improve soil health, and increase biodiversity in ares that have been threatened by deforestation.

Project 7Project 7 is dedicated to bringing great flavor back into your day while at the same time giving back to 7 areas of need.¬†Little purchases when added up can pull many people together and make life changing impacts every day of the week. As¬†Tyler Merrick, founder of Project 7 says,¬†“If people are going to buy things – lots of things – then let’s use those things they purchase to help change the world around us. Let’s make everyday products for everyday people to solve everyday problems around the globe.”

The 7 causes chosen by Project 7 are the areas they see the most need in this world. These include: Feeding the Hungry, Healing the Sick, supporting those who Hope for Peace, Housing the Homeless, Quenching Those who Thirst, Teaching them Well, and Saving the Earth.

Every time you purchase a product from Project 7’s Save the Earth¬†line, you are directly supporting our efforts¬†to plant trees and improve the environment. For a list of retail locations click here.

Thanks for helping the Earth when you shop and thank you Project 7 for your continued support!

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About Project 7:

Founded in 2008, Project 7 has been a leader in the social entrepreneur movement by realizing the opportunity to make a difference in the world by selling everyday products that we’re already consuming and giving back on the sales of those products.

Happy Arbor Day!

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In the past 16 years, we have worked with hundreds of communities throughout Central America and Haiti to plant more than 5 million trees. Our reforestation programs focus on establishing and maintaining tree nurseries, educating communities about the positive environmental impacts of reforestation, and strengthening economic development, both through conservation and the responsible management of forest resources. We work with existing local groups, schools, and communities in extremely low-income rural and peri-urban areas to provide guidance on how to plant, graft, and maintain their trees.

We could not do this work without our generous friends and supporters who donate to these important reforestation efforts. Thank you to everyone who has made a difference for people and the planet. We honor you on this Arbor Day!

$1 = 1 tree

To plant a tree today please visit our website and click on the “donate” button in the upper right-hand corner: www.treeswaterpeople.org

Update: El Salvador Tree Nursery Successfully Relocated

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AAP staff water the new nursery after relocating to new land.

 

Since 2001, we have worked with Arboles y Agua para el Pueblo (AAP) to plant a wide variety of trees in El Salvador. AAP is an ideal organization to work with because they have such a dedicated and hard working staff with close ties to the local communities. Since our partnership began, we have planted nearly 600,000 trees, helping to address environmental degradation caused by deforestation in this small Central American country.

Resiembra de plantulas de Lim√≥n en nuevo Vivero Marzo 2014Earlier this year AAP received some bad news. They would have to vacate the land where their tree nursery had been located since 2007 because it was being divided and sold. Armando Hernandez Juarez, the Director of AAP, explained, “We tried to negotiate,¬†but¬†we were told to¬†evict the property immediately as the demolition would begin and the nursery was in the way.”¬†¬†Moving the nursery¬†would be a huge challenge because AAP¬†had already planted 25,000 seeds, not to mention that they would need to take down, transport, and then rebuild the infrastructure!

Thanks to the generosity of a local family with land available, the AAP team was able to relocate the tree nursery, including the 25,000 bags of soil. The nursery staff worked really hard to make this move happen so we can continue to grow precious trees for reforestation efforts throughout the country. Armando said, “We recognize the work done by our staff¬†to dismantle the¬†nursery¬†in¬†El Carmen and reestablish the new¬†nursery. These people¬†worked¬†hard and without sparing any additional time.”

We are so grateful to our dedicated partners at AAP who have worked tirelessly to keep our nursery in operation. We look forward to seeing this tree nursery bloom with life in the coming months. Great work team!

Do√Īa Tania Alarc√≥n auxiliar de viverista llenando con sustrato las bolsas en el nuevo Vivero Marzo 2014
Tania Alarcón plants seeds at the new tree nursery location.

Happy International Day of Forests!

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Today, we join with millions of people around the world to celebrate the International Day of Forests!

According to the United Nations, “Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood.¬†Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.”

International Day of ForestsForests are essential to economic, social, and environmental health. Yet, we continue to deforest the planet at an alarming rate. Over 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change (United Nations, 2014).

We must fight deforestation by supporting policies and organizations that protect and conserve these most precious natural resources: forests, soils, water, and biodiversity.

Since 1998, we have been working tirelessly with our local partners throughout Central America and Haiti to address major deforestation problems. With more than 5.3 million trees planted, we are making a big impact. But, we need your help to continue the fight.

Please consider a donation to our Reforestation Program today! For only $1, you can plant a tree in Latin America: Donate Here

Corporate Partner Spotlight: Green Ride

Since partnering with TWP in 2012, Green Ride has supported the planting of 2,646 trees in El Salvador.
Since partnering with TWP in 2012, Green Ride has supported the planting of 2,646 trees in El Salvador.

Green Ride, a Colorado-based shuttle service, is a company that truly exemplifies what it means to be a socially-conscious and sustainable business. Not only are they greatly reducing the number of cars on the road, they also provide customers with the opportunity to plant trees when they make a reservation. Every tree planted improves water quality and local soils in El Salvador, making communities stronger and healthier.

We are honored to work with Green Ride and their customers! With more than 2,640 trees planted since 2012, this is truly an impactful partnership.

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Guest Blog: SOIL and TWP Work Together to Plant Trees in Haiti

by Monica Roy, Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL)

Haitian school children plant trees

Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods, or SOIL, is one of our reforestation partners in Haiti. In this new post, Monica Roy provides an update of the 10,000 Trees for Haiti project that donors helped us fund at the end of 2012.

It’s been quite a year so far for SOIL! Among our many activities, we’re currently building a new office for our Cap-Haitien team in order to be closer to the SOIL farm and to reduce our long-term operating costs, we‚Äôre continuing to scale up our innovative new social business model for providing affordable sanitation services in Haiti‚Äôs most impoverished urban communities, and we‚Äôre transforming over 20,000 gallons of human waste every month into rich, organic compost critical for agriculture and reforestation. We sell some of the compost to support our ongoing sanitation activities, but some of it is used at our tree nursery to grow healthy trees.

Thanks to the support of Trees, Water & People, SOIL’s reforestation projects in Haiti continue to have a positive impact on improving food security, increasing rural incomes, and fighting soil erosion.

SOIL tree nursery HaitiWe’re happy to announce that we’re now almost halfway to our goal of planting 10,000 trees. There were a few hold-ups figuring out the best strategy to plant trees with a higher rate of survival (those pesky goats!), but we are on track to finish planting by the end of the year. So far, we have collaborated with the Scouts of Haiti, schools, community organizations, and our neighbors near the farm. There has been lots of positive feedback and a growing wait list for people interested in planting trees in their communities.

In the SOIL nursery, we focus on seeding fruit trees, which provide so many additional benefits beyond just re-planting Haiti’s largely deforested land. Not only will these trees help stabilize soils, they will also provide shade, food to eat, and an income for local people.

In the coming months and years, we will continue working with schools, community groups, and entrepreneurs to plant more and more trees in ecologically vulnerable areas such as mountainsides and mangrove terrain along Haiti‚Äôs coastline. We’re committed to ensuring that not only are we planting more trees every year, but also that we‚Äôre following up to make sure those trees have a lasting positive benefit for Haiti‚Äôs soil, environment, and people.

We’re very excited to continue this work with Trees, Water, & People and we thank everyone in Haiti and around the world that have supported this effort.

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