Supporting Indigenous Reforestation
Highland Support Project presents "Cocktails for a Cause" an event supporting Indigenous Women’s Reforestation Program in Latin America. Growing healthy forest and women’s enterprise! With live music by elliott ness!!
A little background…
The Association of Highland Women's tree nursery is located in the community Espumpuja, Guatemala. It is a social enterprise that specializes in collecting seeds from the old-growth forests to preserve the genetic diversity in the regions tree stock. The enterprise provides women with business, leadership, and training opportunities that are not existant to rural indigenous women.
Why conserve forest genetic resources?
"The layperson might wonder why forest genetic resources are important," says the Panel's Secretary, Christel Palmberg-Lerche of FAO. "Isn't one type of fern or poplar pretty much like another?... And genetic variation within species is important because growth and resistance to stresses such as harsh weather and disease depend on such variation. Tree populations that are genetically uniform won't grow as well over the varying environments that forests occupy and will face more difficulty in evolving to cope with changing environments. Intensive breeding encourages uniformity, so a reservoir of new genes needs to be constantly available to meet new problems."
What is so bad about deforestation?
Forests are Earth’s lungs–they sequester carbon, release oxygen, and protect against global climate change. When we burn fossil fuels and clear trees, we release heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.
In Guatemala, the situation is critical because much of the country is mountains. Entire villages have been buried under mudslides that are a result of the dramatic deforestation. Furthermore, water sources become contaminated, and valuable topsoil is lost due to the erosion of barren lands.
What has HSP done?
he Highland Support Project has supported reforestation efforts for over twenty-five years. In this time, we have learned that reforestation is not merely the act of planting a tree. Effective reforestation requires community organizing and education. Frequently, trees are cut down in a few years to provide firewood for inefficient open-air fire pits, or they never grow because someone has received a goat or cow and need the pastoral lands.
HSP responds to these complex problems by developing social enterprises that assist Indigenous people to live on their lands, in their communities, and with their culture. The tree nursery that HSP started in Espumpuja is one example. For over a decade, we have purchased hundreds of trees that provide jobs for community members, we have built thousands of fuel-efficient cookstoves that reduce the demand. We have engaged with primary school education and women's organizing to promote ecological sustainability.