Portraits of Ecosystem Restoration in Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

October-December, 2010

Orlando waters the compost pile. Kitchen scraps are mixed with equal parts of saw dust and periodically watered to decompose into nutrient-rich soil at the greenhouse. The compost is turned twice, as it is moved along in the trench, and is finished after approximately 6 months. This year we began parallel compost trenches to double production.
In El Astillero, a neighboring barrio of Bahía, Orlando collects mature Jaboncillo seeds for germinating in 2011 and planting at revegetation sites in 2012. The late stages of the dry season are a good time for collecting seeds from a number of different native tree species as the seeds are preparing to fall to the ground just before the rainy season starts.
The most unavoidable news in Bahía from this year is the new 2 kilometer bridge that spans the Rio Chone estuary and connects Bahia to San Vicente. Nevertheless, changes come in spurts around here, and some old habits are hard to break. A fisherman uses a dugout canoe and hand-thrown net to fish in the bay. In the foreground, heavy machinery works to put the final touches on the bridge construction.  
We visited the Planet Drum Bioregional Sustainability Institute land at the peak of the dry season. Jaeson and Orlando clear light weeds off of the tent platform we built nearly a year ago.
Orlando and Jaeson cross the seasonal creek that borders the Planet Drum land. Even six months into the dry season, the creek still has a visible amount of water in it.
Orlando waters the 4,000+ native trees representing over a dozen different species that we have accumulated in the greenhouse during the past year. The ideal height for planting them is between 50 and 100 centimeters.
This is a panoramic of the Planet Drum land area. In the foreground our neighbor has made a potrero (grasslands) for cattle. The Planet Drum land is a triangle shape that begins with the forest just past the greenish pasture and includes one of the major drainages off of the highest hilltop (on the left-hand side) in the picture. The seasonal creek begins at the V of the hills, center-right, and runs five and half kilometers off into the distance of the photo, where it meets the Pacific Ocean.
 Clay collects Guachepeli seeds off the main road near Kilometro 8. Guachepeli has proved to be one of the most resilient tree species that we work with. It is fast growing and resistant to drought. This year we have over 1,200 Guachepeli trees at the greenhouse. The seeds collected in this picture will be stored until next May or June, when they will be germinated so that the plants grow to a proper height for planting in 2012.  
 Long-time Planet Drum friend and volunteer, Maggie Weadick, came to Ecuador for a second time to visit the projects. She helped out in the field by assisting in macheteing trails at a new revegetation site (Dr. Acosta) for 2011. The trails weave around existing vegetation to fill in the gaps with additional trees, which will stabilize the soil and provide habitat for native creatures among other benefits.  
 Peter Berg meets with the director, Rolando Mejía Alvarado, of a local high school, Fanny de Baird, to sign a work agreement. This past year, all of the students who participated in Planet Drum’s Bioregional Education Program came from Fanny. It is the second largest public high school in the area and they have been very reciprocal in supporting our projects.  
Peter chats with high-schooler Oscar Enrique, who was one of the brightest of the Bioregionalismo students this year.
 Ramon, Peter and I stand with the students from this year’s Bioregionalismo classes. In total, nearly sixty students participated in the 12-week after-school education program.

Pásalo bien,

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