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  • July 11, 2019 3 min read

    Your support has helped plant 28,500 trees in Guatemala as part of a 2-year project that is nearly complete.

    That's a wrap! 

    Spring tree planting has come to a close, marking the end of our second round of planting in Guatemala.

    The first batch of 20,000 trees was planted earlier in the project, along the country's Pacific South Coast. In the spring of 2019 another 8,500 trees were planted in Huehuetenango, with another 20,000 to be planted by the end of the year in Laguna Brava. 

    This project is quite unique. Our partners on the ground are working with indigenous communities to help them move beyond coffee farming, a large-scale industry initiated by German settlers over 150 years ago. This region of Guatemala used to be a rainforest full of rich fertile soil, but the practices used for coffee farming and rampant deforestation lead to significant destruction of the landscape, diminished soil quality, and harmed the ecosystem making it difficult for local biodiversity to thrive. 

    Now, through a collaborative reforestation effort, the trees will help restore the forest to its former glory, all while enriching the lives of local people and wildlife, and helping to improve the climate. Additionally,  improvements to a critical watershed will result in higher quality drinking water for the surrounding communities and beyond!

    The tree species planted include Palo Blanco, Teak, Cacao, Mahogany, Moringa, Cedar, White Pine, Cypress, Pinabete, and Rosewood. A wonderful part of this project is a focus on endangered tree species like Rosewood and Mahogany, which are over-harvested around the world for making everything from furniture to musical instruments. These trees have immense ecological value beyond their utility for humans, so their restoration is especially important.

    Getting the participation of the people living in the area is a major aspect of the regional reforestation effort. Overall, this project engages with 22 different communities. For the most recent planting, a total of 7 communities were involved, each comprising of between 100 and 500 families. In some cases, communities who were previously in conflict over political and economic issues are coming together under a common goal - restoring their shared local environment. 

    Communities are also receiving forest management training and many are becoming informal foresters. Foresters can share their knowledge of the long-term impacts of unsustainable agricultural practices with their communities and promote sustainable ways to mange the forest to cultivate both economic and environmental sustainability. 

    Furthermore, the planting project includes a newly-created nursery run by local youth, providing community income and a training center on top of all the environmental benefits of planting. The nursery decreases costs for future reforestation efforts and expands the scope of upcoming projects to nearby communities.

    Beyond the benefits to the community, there are several important species of wildlife who live in and rely on the forest. Local species includes wildcats, deer, otters, howler and spider monkeys, many types of birds, and several species of reptiles, toads, and plants endemic to the region. 

    Reforestation and conservation of animal wildlife go hand-in-hand. Planting trees brings the ecosystem back into balance, promoting a natural process of regeneration that provides habitat and food for the animals relying on the landscape. 

    We look forward to continue working with these amazing communities as there are many more trees to be planted. Thanks for your support in Guatemala!

    P.S. The photos above were all taken this year at our project location in Laguna Brava, and the additional photos below were taken with a family at the south coast projects, in the towns of “San Andreas Osuna” an old coffee farm,  and “San Vicente Los Cimientos” also a former coffee farm but made up of indigenous resettled survivors of the armed conflict.

    We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?

    by Diana Chaplin

    Canopy Director & Eco-Storyteller