Work has meant 8 -11 volunteers swinging machetes or digging seedbeds.

March 29-April 16, 2010

Volunteer help has been excellent during the past three weeks, but unfortunately it is about to drop off considerably. Right now there’s a group of five from Minnesota, Sam from the state of Washington, a couple from England, and Suzie from Australia. Recently, work has meant eight to eleven volunteers swinging machetes or digging seedbeds at the greenhouse. We have accomplished a ton of work and are well set up for the coming weeks.

Additionally, the group has been very adaptive to the new office/apartment’s living situation and we’ve made signs and notices explaining many of the mundane but important daily duties in all corners of the house. There is also a new welcoming binder with thorough introductory information for arriving volunteers, which should make integration into life at Planet Drum much smoother.

Light rainfall lasting for hours during the past few nights has proved that the rainy season does in fact still have some life in it. The trees will be well off for at least another month; more signs of rain in the forecast suggest that they will be in good shape for even longer. Thus far the mild to moderate El Nińo activity of 2010 has treated the Bahia bioregion exceptionally well. There have been good, consistent rains, and not in excessive or dangerous amounts.

The revegetation sites that have been planted this year are the best (overall) that I’ve seen in Planet Drum’s history in Bahia. I would estimate a survival rate of well above 90% so far, with some sites running at 98-99%. And the trees that have survived look absolutely fantastic; they are all bursting with growth. This bodes very well for the upcoming dry season. Trees with more developed root systems will be better off for surviving without rain. Those that were already one meter tall or larger before being transplanted appear to be doing the best, so the timing of planting seeds in the greenhouse is critical down the road. Ideally, trees that grow at different rates will be seeded at different times so that they are all at least a meter tall entering the next rainy season.

The light rains that are so helpful for our trees are even more beneficial for the weeds and vines which grow at an astonishing rate. As a result, the majority of our days have been spent clearing them off the recently planted trees. This is where having a workforce numbering close to double digits has been so useful. With sites that have up to four and five hundred trees, it takes a few days to uncover each site depending on how overgrown they are. Since being planted, all the sites have been cleared of weeds at least once, if not twice. And clearing weeds for the first and second time at a site is always the hardest. Future maintenance of these trees should now be easier.

Aside from the field sites, we’ve made good progress at the greenhouse: starting the revegetation process over again by planting fresh seedbeds of Cascol, Guachepeli, Seca, and Cabo de H. The recent rains also work magic for seed germination. Many of them are already germinating and soon will need to be transplanted to three-liter bottles.

And the cycle repeats itself. Every step of the way there’s plenty of restoration work to do. So if you’re interested in volunteering, click here to check it out: volunteering information ( There is currently plenty of availability for the summer months.

And stay posted for news about the upcoming 2010 Bioregional Education Program, which will start in early May, with three classes of approximately forty-five local school students and two new teachers. Numerous thanks to the Children of Ecuador Foundation (a Canadian organization:  ) for a generous grant that is making this possible!

Pásalo bien,

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