February 23rd marked the 17th anniversary of Bahía de Caráquez Ecological City declaration. While local ecological groups (Amigos de la Ecociudad – Friends of the Ecocity) have worked tirelessly over the years to develop their various ecological programs and environmental work, support from the city government has been sporadic and mostly focused on the garbage separation program (organic, inorganic recycling, and inorganic waste). The true heroes of the Ecocity, the Tricicleros, remain mostly on the margin, hardly receiving Municipal notice for their crucial contribution to the Ecocity campaign. The Ecological City movement in Bahía continues to hang on, and still draws a crowd.
The day’s events began with a ceremony held inside the municipal theater. Speeches were given by various city officials, including Mayor Manuel Gilces’ opening remarks from the where he recounted the history of the declaration of the Ecocity. Recognition was given to Bahía’s various ecological groups – Planet Drum, Cordillera del Bálsamo, Cerro Seco, and Global Student Embassy and the work that they have accomplished over the years in order to make Bahía a greener, healthier, and more beautiful place to live.
After the ceremony inside, everyone went out into the street, which had been closed off for an open-house showcasing each organization’s work. At Planet Drum’s display 282 fruit trees were passed out to visitors who were interested in taking them home to plant at their farms, properties, or backyards. Pechiche, Chirimoya, Guayaba, Guanabano, Tamarindo, Cereza, and Papaya trees were all a big hit and in less than an hour, all of the them were distributed to local residents who joyfully received their tree donations.
The trees were a big attraction and also sparked a myriad of conversations about local tree species, planting techniques, reforestation, and a number of contacts were made for potential new collaborators in Planet Drum’s revegetation and bioregional education projects.
Overall, the event was a big success, especially in spreading the message of the importance of creating positive ecological change. Hopefully the Bahía Ecocity movement will continue working to achieve the long-term solutions to the ecological issues in this unique bioregion.