Project Update: NICFEC Now the Tierra Verde Climate Change Adaptation Center!

by Gemara Gifford, International Director

Since our last update in June, we have been very busy working on the Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy & Climate (NICFEC) with our partners at PROLE√ĎA. Not only have we been working on the buildings, but a new name as well! The¬†Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy & Climate will now be the Tierra Verde Climate Change Adaptation Center. Set in one of the driest and most threatened ecosystems on earth, the Pacific Dry Corridor, the¬†Tierra Verde Center is a new regional climate change training facility where diverse stakeholders share knowledge, skills, and strategies in sustainable agriculture, forestry, fuel-efficient technologies, watershed management, soil remediation, and more. Over the last four months, we have nearly completed the dormitory where people from all across the world will be able to be housed to share knowledge on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

NICFEC Dorm
The dormitory for the Tierra Verde Center is nearly complete. It will house visitors while they learn about climate adaptation in Central America.

We have also recently established two tree nurseries at the back of the site, which will soon house 50,000-100,000 native trees for use in reforestation, agroforestry, and fuel-lot projects. Like everything on site, the nurseries will serve as a demonstration. Farmers will be able to see, feel, and touch a tree nursery planted with species that can survive well in the arid climate, as well as learn how to market the products grown from the trees, i.e., fuelwood, poles for construction, fruits and nuts.

NICFEC Tree Nursery
These seedlings growing in the Tierra Verde Center tree nursery will be used for demonstrations.

Perhaps the most exciting achievement was that we hosted our first event at the Tierra Verde Center site since we began construction! While we wish it were under different circumstances, we were able to hold a tree planting ceremony in honor of our dear friend, Lucas Wolf, with a majestic Ceiba tree in his honor. Over 30 people were in attendance from all across the country, many locals and colleagues whom Lucas built relationships with over the past three years in Nicaragua. Lucas was TWP’s International Director, and a dear friend, who passed away suddenly this July while traveling in Cuba.

Lucas' Tree Planting at NICFEC
In honor of Lucas’ birthday, we held a tree planting ceremony at the new the¬†Tierra Verde Center site.

Upon completion in 2018, the¬†Tierra Verde Center will feature live classrooms, workspaces, demonstration gardens, and private cabanas where local and international visitors ‚ÄĒ from smallholder farmer to high-level decision-maker ‚ÄĒ can both learn about and participate in climate change adaptation education in the Pacific Dry Corridor. On display will be a variety of demonstrative solutions including clean cookstove designs, fuel-efficient kilns and ovens, solar energy systems, green charcoal technologies, and agroforestry plots that reveal relevant strategies for climate change resilience, especially for local smallholder farmers. We expect to launch programming and tours in 2018!

If you are interested in traveling to Nicaragua with us, or any of our program countries, please sign up for our email list for upcoming trips.

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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.

Update: El Salvador Tree Nursery Successfully Relocated

new tree nursery_El Porvenir El Salvador
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.

The Big Move: Relocating 25,000 seedlings in El Salvador

el salvador tree nursery

The small town of El Porvenir has been home to our Salvadoran tree nursery for many years, producing nearly 600,000 trees for reforestation efforts in El Salvador. Our dedicated local team, Arboles y Agua para el Pueblo (AAP), takes great pride in growing every tree from seed, caring for each seedling until it is ready to be planted on a local farm, protected area, or within local communities. These trees are, of course, important for environmental protection efforts. But beyond that, they also represent improved livelihoods, jobs, and nutrition for rural communities.

tree nursery el salvador
25,000 seeds planted and ready to be moved

For the past several years, we have been grateful to a local coffee producer for allowing us to use his land for our nursery operations. Unfortunately, we were recently notified that we could no longer use the land, as the coffee company had gone out of business. So, after spending many long days planting 25,000 tree seedlings and setting up the infrastructure for the season, the staff at AAP had to move the entire nursery to a new location in El Porvenir. Frustrating? Yes! But, tree planting must go on and nothing is going to get in the way of those efforts.

The tree nursery has been successfully relocated, but this is only a temporary solution. In the coming months, we will be working with AAP to search for land that we can buy, securing a location for our tree nursery for many years to come. Stay tuned for updates on our land search in El Salvador!

new tree nursery
Working the land at the new nursery location

Notes from the Field: Reforestation Brings Economic and Environmental Benefits to Haiti

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

A desert brush fire in the northwest of Haiti foreshadows the scene I returned to when I flew back to my home town of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Usually when I return to Colorado from an extended period abroad, I notice many differences, and breathe a sigh of relief as I enter the world of the predictable, the reliable and the comfortable.  However, as I left the airport in June 2012, after my 4 week stay in Haiti, there was a striking similarity in the air that brought my work full circle.  It was sunset, and 70 miles northwest of Denver International Airport, I could see the tremendous smoke cloud of the High Park fire, burning the parched forests just miles from my home in Fort Collins, CO.

After the fires in our state, heavy rains brought thousands of tons of blackened sediment and tree parts into homes, over roads, onto agricultural fields, debilitating these vulnerable communities even further. From one natural disaster to another, severe swings in weather patterns like the ones we have seen recently in Colorado can be brutally destructive to people in all walks of life.  Sadly, this debilitation is almost a yearly occurrence in the remote and remarkably barren wilds of northwest Haiti, where I spent 3 weeks before returning to safe, reliable and predictable (!!!) Colorado.

The hills of Petit Boise, in the northwest region of Haiti, are dry and barren from prolonged drought.

All of Haiti is experiencing a severe drought at the moment ‚Äď a condition which puts agriculturally dependent communities in the crosshairs of hunger and destitution.¬† The irony is that they are on the cusp of hurricane season, which almost always swings the pendulum too far in the opposite direction ‚Äď flooding communities, causing landslides and ruining already mangled roadways.¬† These extremes cause incredible unpredictability in what to (attempt to) grow, how to save, how to plan, and who of the family to keep in school, to send to the fields, or to send to the city for a ‚Äúbetter‚ÄĚ life.¬† There are no guarantees, and no easy ways to reduce risk to one‚Äôs livelihood.

Trees, Water & People, CSU’s Global Social Sustainable Enterprise MBA, and the Center for Collaborative Conservation are working with TWP local partners AMURT and LOCAL to address this extreme vulnerability in northwest Haiti.

Working with AMURT extentionists to learn how to utilize GPS technology to map farm lands in the region.

From our years of experience working with trees and biomass energy as a renewable resource, we are engaging struggling farmers throughout the region to examine their land and their agricultural productivity, seeking to dedicate under-utilized portions of their land to tree farming.  Trees over 5 years of age can provide myriad benefits in food security, income stability, and soil conservation and sustained yield management can ensure these benefits are provided over generations.

This tree nursery in Lagon, Haiti produces tens of thousands of valuable fruit and hardwood trees throughout the year, benefiting both people and the fragile environment of northwest Haiti.

By focusing on the economic benefits that trees provide over time (fuel, fruit, poles, lumber) and the environmental benefits (soil conservation, soil rehabilitation, water retention, shade), we are making the argument that banking value in trees will have a net positive impact on regional sustainability and economy over time.  By providing the right incentives, the right team of local extensionists to provide technical support, access to high-quality seedlings from our tree-nurseries, and building wealth through self-driven community savings and loans groups, we are creating the foundation necessary to get farmers on board, and to plant and care for trees as if their future depended on it.

To be part of bringing positive change to northwest Haiti, please donate to TWP on our homepage at www.treeswaterpeople.org, with ‚ÄúHaiti Trees‚ÄĚ in the comment field.