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A Collaborative Approach to Forest Restoration and Regeneration: An Interview with EcoLogic's Team

EcoLogic Development Fund and its local partners, FARCO and PANTERA, have recently launched a new project in Mexico called the "Alliance for the Conservation of Birds of the Papaloapan." This project aims to conserve neotropical migratory bird habitat while restoring and protecting forests.

We talked with EcoLogic's Program Officer in Mexico, Marco Acevedo, field technician Severiana Dominguez González, and José Leonardo Hernández Montiel, FARCO's Executive Director to learn more about the project goals and approaches.

What are the project's objectives regarding reforestation and assisted natural regeneration?

The project aims to reforest 20 hectares in consultation with local communities. We will prioritize areas with specific ecological functions for birds, such as nesting, shelter, and reproduction. We will also prioritize areas that serve essential functions for both birds and rural communities, such as water bodies.

The reforestation activities will be carried out with the active participation of the local population weeks before the rainy season to guarantee the survival of the seedlings.

What species are selected for reforestation?

We selected species that were prioritized by local communities through participatory assessment workshops. We also prioritized species that provide food and shelter to local fauna and provide habitat spaces for different ecological interactions.

Rural and Indigenous communities are at the heart of this project.

For example, species that generate flowers, fruits, and seeds, to increase the presence and proliferation of insects and provide food for bird species and small mammals. This also increases the availability of prey for birds that have more carnivorous diets and for scavenging birds.

This includes species such as Mamey sapote (Pouteria sapota), Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota), and Broad-leaved Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). We chose these species to ensure that the reforestation efforts will benefit local communities and promote the biodiversity of the region.

Who is involved in the project?

Rural and Indigenous communities are at the heart of this project. They are involved in all aspects, from identifying priority areas to planting and caring for trees. We also work with community brigade members and technical service providers to support community efforts.

How are the seeds obtained?

We source seeds locally from healthy, robust trees with ample foliage and strong seed production capacity. We mark these trees for identification and management and monitor their performance over time.

We collect seeds after the flowering process and monitor fruit maturation. For some species, we collect seeds directly where they accumulate or have dispersed -- the ground. For others, we collect them directly from the tree.

Once we have collected the seeds, we treat them to select the best specimens and discard those that are unviable. We store the seeds in airtight containers in cool, dry places, free from insects or rodents and not exposed to direct sunlight.

We then grow the seeds using appropriate methods for each species. We monitor the germination process carefully to select the healthiest seedlings for planting.

Are the species native? Are they locally useful?

Yes, all species we are planting are native to Mexico. We select species valuable to the local communities and beneficial to local biodiversity. For example, some species provide food and shelter for birds, while others help protect water resources. We also prioritize species with a limited population or those facing the threat of extinction.

How are the trees grown?

We cultivate the trees using methods that are appropriate for each species. For example, some species require hard seed scarification before germination, while others don't. We also take care to select suitable planting sites for each species.

Once we have selected a site, we prepare the soil and dig holes. We then carefully plant the seedlings and water them well.

Our project is restoring and protecting vital forest ecosystems and fostering a sustainable future for neotropical migratory birds and the communities that depend on them.

If necessary, we may also provide protection from livestock or herbivorous animals because they can easily damage or destroy young trees. To protect them, we surround them with a mesh or a 1-meter-high grid attached to a stake in the ground. This will create a barrier preventing the animals from reaching the trees.

Local students helping with the substrate preparation for tree planting.

After planting, we monitor the trees carefully to ensure they are thriving. We provide water and fertilizer as needed and control pests and diseases.

Driven by the incredible strength of collaboration between local communities and organizations, our project is restoring and protecting vital forest ecosystems and fostering a sustainable future for neotropical migratory birds and the communities that depend on them.


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