A little over a month ago, we shared a bit about our partners on the ground in Guatemala,The New Roots Foundation.They have a unique model ofagroforestrythat also combines education and social impact. This not only serves to benefit the environment, but also the many communities that live and work in this region.
With the help of our partners and donors, we have now planted close to 6,000 trees with New Roots in the south coast region of Guatemala – Osuna and Los Cimientos. The species planted were teakand palo blanco, as these are the best trees for the local climate and for ultimate return for the community (2,930 palo blancos and 3,025 teaksacross both communities).
The trees were put both in public land as well as taken to personal plots, where they will be kept very fertilized and free of pests by being planted near coffee and cacao. Records are maintained so that ongoing contact is made to ensure the trees are thriving, and everyone participating received training about how best to plant the saplings and care for them properly for years to come. Farmers and community members will also have a local contact person who can address any questions in the future.
Osuna was historically a colonial coffee town, so New Roots has been working hard to help community members see the world beyond their traditional coffee crop, which isn't always reliable or lucrative. That's why they were so excited for the new trees; it represents more opportunity for them in the future. With teaks, 5% of the trees need to be cut to make way for healthier ones, and even a small teak tree can bring several hundred dollars to a family! This balance of planting, conservation, and limited harvesting creates lasting benefits for both people and the planet.
In addition to planting, group discussions involved ways to best graft saplings, collect seeds from flowering teaks to plant more trees, what legal rights local people have as small-holder farmers who are interested in selling sustainable wood, and who would care for the trees in communal lands. When the value of trees was fully understood, the group immediately started discussing bridge repair, road repair, and scholarships. There are even plans to start a nursery so that older tree cuttings can be grown and sold to local villages.
A great day was had by all, with hope and opportunity for even more positive impact to come as a result of these initiatives.