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Totonicapán: Promoting Reforestation to Preserve Springs and Water Sources

By Leopoldo Batz, Maya K'iche Journalist. Director of Red25 TV, a community TV channel in Totonicapán. This story was originally published in Spanish on Prensa Comunitaria.

With its annual reforestation campaign, the Natural Resource Council of the 48 Cantones of Totonicapán aims to preserve water sources and regenerate forest areas damaged by excessive logging, fires, and pine beetle infestations.

Municipal and community authorities, institutions, and COSAMI participated in the launch event of the 2021 campaign that started with a Mayan ceremony to ask Mother Earth for permission to begin the reforestation activities.

The current president of the Natural Resource Council of the 48 Cantones, Santos Norato, underlined the campaign's significance. "The trees will be distributed in the different communities, who will have to make their respective requests," he said.

"We need to work together for this noble cause. Excessive logging is damaging hectares of forest, and this year its reforestation is our responsibility. We call on people, local and community authorities to stay united to preserve and protect the forest," he added.

The authorities have been taking action to monitor the forest: in 2020 and at the beginning of this year, they arrested people caught chopping trees in the communal forest of Totonicapán.

EcoLogic: 19 years Supporting the Forestry Project

For the beginning of the day, the forest nursery prepared 150,000 trees of five native species: egg-cone pine, white pine, Andean alder, cypress, and Guatemalan fir. They are all native species of the forests of Totonicapán.

Mario Ardany de León, from the NGO EcoLogic Development Fund, supports the program technically and financially. De León supervised the greenhouses where the cultivation is. " We evaluate and verify the tree production: from seed collection to planting and irrigation. For 19 years, we have been supporting the different leadership councils in charge in order not to lose the cultural tradition of tree plantation," de León said.

Fernando Recancoj, a forestry technician from EcoLogic, highlighted that the primary purpose of Andean alders is to protect water sources and groundwater recharge areas in the region. Furthermore, other native species such as Iximche, olive tree, and aguacatillo provide food to the birds of these emblematic forests.

The EcoLogic team pointed out that this type of campaign also aims to promote - among citizens and youth - the importance of reforestation as a tool to protect and preserve forest resources and tackle the effects of climate change.

The communal nursey of the 48 Cantones has a capacity to produce 200,000 plants. One hundred thirty-seven thousand will be used immediately, while the remaining ones will need one year and a half to grow. The forest has an extension of 22,000 hectares, and in 11,377 of them one can find the endangered species of the Guatemalan fir (Abies Guatemalensis).


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