Planting saplings in a late rainy season ahead of dry season.

February 10-16, 2007

Although the rains have ceased since the initial few days of rain we received, only teasing us with an occasional sprinkle, we continued to plant our sites. At a certain point you have to plant no matter what. Once it gets too late in the season it’s not worth planting anyways since the trees don’t have enough time in the ground before the dry season, and we were getting very close to that time. So we stuck to our plan and now our work is in the hands of the climate. Every day that passed it looked more and more like it would rain. The humidity built, the heat intensified and the air became thick, but nothing came of it. Now having made it through the week, we did finally receive some rain over the past weekend, but it was a long week of anticipation.

We also had a fair share of community action in the past week, some of it inviting local groups to participate with Planet Drum on our work, and some of it branching out to help others with their work. There is always a bit more positive energy in the air when we get to work directly with others to help improve their surroundings.

And finally, there’s been nearly a full turn over of volunteers. We were down to just one, thanks John for making it seem like there were actually more of us around, especially when it came to finishing planting trees at our new sites. But in the coming week we will be filling our ranks again with some new arrivals and we’re definitely looking to the increase in our workforce.

As you may remember from the last report, we worked straight through the weekend at the beginning of this week in order to reforest all of this year’s new sites as quickly as possible. So on Saturday we continued with our mission by planting trees at Maria Dolores. This is a particularly important site because it is on a partially eroded hill above a small cluster of houses. The land has already been used for maize plantings and the topsoil is particularly poor. We planted fifty trees in rows that will hopefully stabilize erosion.

Sunday morning I visited the Astillero neighborhood to meet up with local residents for a cleanup and preparation for the planting of fruit trees. This work was planned during a community meeting the previous Thursday (see last week’s report). I helped clear brush and pick up garbage at two different planting sites. The trees will be planted on the coming Wednesday. It was great getting a chance to meet some of the people from this neighborhood, particularly in such an encouraging situation. While I was chopping away with my machete all morning, Wyatt and John got invited to the local radio station for the weekly environmental segment. They were interviewed by the radio host and got to promote our Planet Drum work and message over the airwaves. Way to go!

In the afternoon we planted our new site in the Bosque en Medio de las Ruinas (Forest in Middle of the Ruins). See the previous week’s report for a description of this park. We also made an impromptu site in a natural clearing at the top of hill there. We planted twenty-five extra trees from our greenhouse. They will be much happier out in the open and should provide a nice improvement to the summit of Ruinas. Thanks again to Ramon for giving your help to us for another day. You really helped us out with our plantings this year.

On Monday we began work at our most treacherous of the new sites, Bosque Encantado. It includes one hundred trees that are far up on an erosion prone hillside. The walk in is arduous enough without hauling trees, compost and shovels. Furthermore we were down to our last volunteer. So it was just Jaime (our local Ecuadorian field expert), John and I working. Wyatt finally moved on after holding out for weeks waiting for a chance to do some planting. (He was the only one from our Planet Drum crew back in December to make it all the way to the plantings in the middle of February.) Many thanks are due; your work is greatly appreciated. Trees were moved up to the site, along with tools, but this alone took an entire day of work. In the afternoon I rode along with a couple of people from the Municipality to visit a site where the city will be planting palm trees. The plan is to line the median of the road from outside of town all the way into Bahia with two-thousand palms. We also took a tour of the composting facility for Bahia. In an effort to increase our contact with the Municipality I told them that Planet Drum would be willing to help them, as much as we can, with their palm tree project. It’s a shame they’re not planting native trees, but it’s still nice to see the effort they are putting into to make Bahia look more beautiful.

And since we just couldn’t get enough of Bosque Encantado on Monday, we had to go back to get some more on Tuesday. More trees were moved up while we began digging holes and planting trees. It was a long day, but between the three of us, we planted all one hundred trees. Exhausted, we trudged down the hill to the bus home. In the afternoon I visited some of the residents of the La Cruz neighborhood, where we had one last site left to reforest. I invited anyone from the neighborhood who was interested, particularly the kids, to join us the following day to help us plant trees.

Wednesday morning I attended a meeting at the municipality building while our other workers, John and Jaime with the help of Ricardito and his truck, gathered the trees we would be planting at La Cruz from the greenhouse and took them to the site. At the meeting we discussed plans for the upcoming Formal Session (part of the Eco-week), where Bahia has a chance to present outside politicians with work that’s been done and future plans and ideas for the Eco-city.

From the morning meeting, which spilled over into the afternoon, I went directly to La Cruz to meet up with John and Jaime and to get the site ready for the kids who would be helping us plant. Shortly thereafter we were joined by a local community group of children called ‘Mangrove Baseball’ along with a handful of kids from the neighborhood surrounding our reforestation site. In total about thirty children showed up. I began with a talk about the importance of protecting our environment and why Planet Drum is working here in Bahia and why we are planting trees. La Cruz is situated on a steep hill within the city. Numerous houses are located below the site. It was easy to explain the importance of protecting such a dangerous hillside. I then gave a demonstration of how we transplant the trees from bottles into the ground using compost. After the demonstration we went to work. The kids did excellent work and really enjoyed it. It was great to see them getting into the work so much. It was truly a wonderful time, and it helped us finish that much more planting.

On Thursday we finished the last of our planting which entailed replanting trees where old ones from the previous year had died. We did this at the Bosque Encantado site where unfortunately there was a somewhat high mortality rate, possibly due to the late planting of trees there last year. Of about one-hundred and eighty trees, forty had to be replaced. We also had to do a quick watering session at two of the sites that we planted the previous week. They are rather exposed to sun and went a full week without water because of the lack of rain.

On Friday there was another municipality meeting for Eco-week preparations in the morning. Preparations are looking good. In the afternoon we went to help begin the planting of the palm tree project for the city. Things are run a bit differently with their operations, but it was still good to show our support. That night we had a small party at Cerro Seco and painted banners in preparation for the Parade, part of the Eco-week and Carnaval celebrations, on Saturday.

It was a busy week planting our final sites and getting ready for the upcoming Eco-week, but the community aspect of our work provided us with an extra boost of energy. Now all of our trees are ready for the upcoming week and it seems as though we are getting a bit more rain these days. With every rain all of this year’s trees are reaching out with their roots into their new homes, strengthening themselves and supporting the surrounding soil.

Until next week …. ¡Viva la Eco-Ciudad!


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