Field Study and Service-Learning MediaBlog

04 May, 2008

Palmares: Conservation & Environmental Education

 Seedlings for Restoration
One main aspect of the restoration process at Madre Verde is the seedling nursery. The baby trees are cared for until they grow large enough to survive as part of the developing forest. Donations are accepted for visiting the reserve and/or planting trees. Frequent contibutors such as local and international organizations, schools and churches sponsor an area and can then be responsible for reforesting it. This form of public involvement connects the community to the ecosystem and the purposes underlying the reserve. This allows for a greater respect and appreciation of the flora and fauna of the area and also generates a small amount of revenue for the project. The tropical pre-montane climate consists of 6 months of rainy and 6 months of dry seasons. Seedlings must adapt to the drastic moisture fluctuations. In addition, invasive weeds are competition for and threaten the survival of the small trees. We spent some time weeding around each of the small trees in the nursery and in the restoration areas. This gives them a greater chance of survival.

Perspectives in Conservation
As part of the education aspect at Madre Verde, signs are posted to mark the sponsors of different areas of restoration. Groups can follow the trail up the hillside and view areas where rows of seedlings have been planted by schools, churches and other organizations. During our time at Madre Verde, one assignment was putting up these signs. This work ended up being a lesson in the differing perspectives of restoration. In order to place a sign, the head caretaker of the land cut down a medium sized tree. This and other such activities led to much discussion among us regarding conservation, restoration and natural processes of succession.

Signage for Education
On our second day, we hiked up the mountain with armloads of newly made signs. These signs mark the areas of restoration that are sponsored by schools, churches and other organizations. As part of community participation and education, the signs demonstrate the involvement of local and international organizations in the preservation of this important watershed property. Children are brought to Madre Verde to gain an understanding of the importance of forested landscapes to their water supply. This land was previously used for commercial farming and the runoff caused pollution in the watershed area. In addition, the town of Palmares has a water shortage and is buying water from neighboring San Ramon. When hiking on the trails at Madre Verde, we were shown a creek that still had a trickle of water at the end of the dry season. In the past we were told, the creek has stopped running even during the rainy season. Now, as the forest regenerates, the children and community members alike can witness how trees retain water and see first hand that intact forest is important to prevent drought conditions.

Author: Michelle Krieg