March 12-March 30, 2007
Greetings from Bahia de Caraquez. It’s been awhile since there’s been an update and a lot has happened. March was our one month of real rain this year, and even so it was still pretty sparse. We finished the planting we will be doing this season, all in all about eight hundred trees. That’s a lot of trees that are going to need watering this dry season. We ended up planting more than initially planned, but with a good team of volunteers I think that we’ll be able to handle the watering. Thus far in April there have been a few small showers, which bodes well for all the trees in the ground. The plants in this region are incredibly well adapted to maximize the little rain water they get during this season of the year; and the recent sprinkles should prepare them nicely for the upcoming dry season. Even the hand watering we do for our trees throughout the year can’t compare to a natural downpour. Given the short rainy season this year, these light rains are critical for our revegetation projects.
There’s been more volunteer turnover as well. We were down to two (Liz and Lise) but are now up to four, welcome Rox and Christine to the Planet Drum family. It was sad to see John (Juan) from England leave. He and I were the only two workers at one point during our marathon tree planting in February. He made it through our tough times and helped make the good times that much better. We wish him the best in the rest of his travels across South America. We’re shaping up to have a great crew for the next few months leading into summer, when it’s looking like we’re going to burst at the seams with volunteers. There’s no shortage of work here, so it will be fantastic to have so many volunteers around.
Peter Berg, Planet Drum founder, came and visited Bahia for the month. It was great having him around. He really helped to boost the energy here and we were able to accomplish more than usual. Of many, the final highlight of his trip was a bilingual presentation at the city museum about Planet Drum and the Eco-city. Preparations for the event included numerous trips to local media outlets which provided an excellent excuse to further publicize the work we’ve done here. Local awareness of the ecological work going on in Bahia could always use a boost, and this was a great way to do it. In fact one of the many reasons for giving the presentation was to begin a monthly series of presentations which will allow for local eco-groups to share their experiences with others. The next event in the series will take place at the end of this month and will be presented by Marcelo Luque of the Cerro Seco nature preserve. He will talk about the rich diversity of birds in the area and developing local private protected areas among other topics.
The other major event of March was a visit from the Children of Ecuador foundation of Canada (www.childrenofecuador.ca). Forty-seven of them came to Bahia to help out with a variety of volunteer projects, including Planet Drum. Fortunately they split up into groups of 15 for the work. They spent seven work days with us and although hectic at times, the amount of work they helped us accomplish was incredible. We were able to give them a nice slice of our projects, including work in remote revegetation sites and getting involved with local communities working to assist in the sustainable development of their neighborhoods. With the rain we have been receiving, and plants triggered to grow like crazy with a few drops, weeds have been overgrowing the trails through our revegetation sites to the point where they become completely unrecognizable. The first day of the Canadians’ visit we took them to help hack out our most treacherous (and ironically named) site, Bosque Encantado. The fun continued with the creation of the last sites we will plant this year, supplements to the sites we already have. The groups helped us clear, plant trees and water them. One of these days took place in Bosque en Medio de las Ruinas in the Maria Auxialadora neighborhood and we got local kids to come help us out. Our relationship with this community is really growing, it’s very exciting. Most recently we’re in the process of making interpretive signs to put around the Bosque en Medio de las Ruinas park and they’ve invited us to take part in the painting of murals (financed by the city) along the main road through their barrio. We also got the Children of Ecuador group involved with the Bellavista community. We all pitched in to help prepare their lookout (mirador) for it’s opening this past weekend. The lookout includes a gazebo and roofed picnic tables to attract tourists. The opening was a big success and incredible fun. The Bellavista community has worked incredibly hard for years to develop themselves from practically nothing. They have particular interest in environmental restoration and education, of which Planet Drum has done a large part in the past. It’s great to continue this relationship and see them doing so well. The Canadian volunteers got really into all the work we did here and elsewhere. And it was great to be able to share some of the Ecuadorian experience with them.
One of our main side projects these days is the creation of educational booklets on a variety of topics for use in our bioregional education class resuming at the end of April. Topics include Bioregions, Soil, Flora and Fauna, Recycling, Compost, Nutrition, Alternative Energy, Natural disasters, and Indigenous culture. Liz and Lise have spearheaded this project. Once we have the booklets we will be able to distribute them beyond our own bioregional class and possibly help start other classes.
Some miscellaneous activities from the last month include writing a letter to contribute to the fight by the local government against the construction of cell phone towers in populated areas. The letter included the possible harm the towers could cause to humans and recommendations as to how to minimize the environmental impact of tower construction. The jury is still out on the outcome. Our volunteers also took a field trip one day to visit the provincial government greenhouses in Portoviejo for their revegetation projects. It was interesting to see other greenhouse techniques and to see that the government is taking interest in creating their own revegetation projects.
It’s been another exciting month here at Planet Drum. Come volunteer or get involved by emailing email@example.com.