It's a family affair: every Friday, the 21 families that make of the CAPEMA coffee cooperative of La Cruz del Alto Mayo, Peru head to a shared nursery to plant and care for tree seedlings together. The nursery houses thousands of native species tree seedlings that, once hearty enough, will be replanted throughout the region. While Sustainable Harvest® has provided a full-time nursery specialist to support the effort, the labor and TLC needed to turn the seeds into trees has come from the very communities that will benefit.
In fact, this reforestation effort was spearheaded by five coffee organizations, who came to us with the desire to curb deforestation in the mountains they call home. While many of Alto Mayo's forests have been given protected status by the Peruvian government, they are still very much at risk--the region's growing population is clearing native species to make way for their crops, and timber companies continue to strip hillsides. The new, community tree nurseries are a jumping-off point for a program that includes carbon sequestration efforts, soil recovery, erosion resistance, and the use of native species to mark boundaries and roads throughout Alto Mayo. Funding, materials, and technical assistance for the initiative comes from the Coffee Value Chain Project that Sustainable Harvest® is implementing in Peru's northern coffeelands in partnership with ACDI/VOCA.
Rider, the agronomist hired to oversee the project, is helping each of the five coffee organizations manage their community nursery. He'll be visiting each nursery once a week through April, helping them plant, fertilize, and care for the native species they are planting. He is also conducting educational sessions on forestry and the harvesting of wild seeds. Still, the implementation of the trees ultimately depends on the communities involved--with over 50,000 seeds already turning into seedlings across the Alto Mayo region, the energy bodes well for success.