From seeds to forests: innovative system for reforestation in cloud forests with native tree species
The mountain cloud forest in Veracruz, Mexico, is an ecosystem of great value for its biodiversity and hydrological role. In recent years, it has been progressively degraded because of human activities and the expansion of urban areas, which has caused a major loss of biodiversity. Therefore, this IKI Small Grants project aims to identify sites with potential for reforestation to connect forest fragments, conserving biodiversity, and mitigating the impacts of climate change. The project aims to establish agreements with private landowners to collect seeds for seedlings and reforest a total of ten hectares of land. The reforestation will also be accompanied by an awareness raising campaign on the importance of the cloud forest for biodiversity conservation as well as a standardised system for monitoring the reforestation process.
The mountain cloud forest is an essential ecosystem for conservation, sustainable management, and restoration due to its high levels of biodiversity and its important role in regulating the hydrological cycle in the surrounding watersheds. The target region includes the municipalities Xalapa, Coatepec, and San Andrés Tlalnehuayocan. It covers a surface of 385 square kilometres and inhabits 860,000 people. As the cloud forest is threatened and damaged by the habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss due to human activities (e.g., agriculture, livestock, logging) and the expansion of urban areas, the project aims to restore ten hectares by using native tree species of the cloud forest. Unfortunately, threatened native tree species have been neglected compared to fast-growing and mostly non-native species. However, reforestation with native species benefits local communities, the owners of forest fragments as well as reforestation sites.
In the target region, about 83 per cent of the cloud forest remnants are in private property. This IKI Small Grants project aims to make agreements with private landowners to access their property and collect seeds of native tree species. The project has a network of landowners interested in the enhancement of their lands through tree plantations and in the conservation of certain species. The landowners do not have economic interests that can be derived from the tree plantations. They benefit from learning about local sustainable forest management measures and non-commercial use of forest resources (e.g., fuel, food from fruits, medicine) derived from the tree plantations for the local communities. Further, they attend workshops that provide information on the economic, social, and ecosystem benefits of native trees. Additionally, the tree production system and the systematisation of the process from seed collection to tree monitoring are strengthened.
APPROACH AND ACTIVITIES
The mountain cloud forest of Veracruz is an important ecosystem but becoming increasingly degraded. This IKI Small Grants project focuses on the conservation of biodiversity and aims to restore ten hectares of the mountain cloud forest by using threatened, native tree species, that are useful for the local communities. Most forest remnants are privately owned but can serve as seed plantations for the native tree species in the target region. Therefore, the project seeks to make agreements with private landowners to collect native tree seeds for reforestation. The project also aims to identify sites with potential for reforestation to connect forest fragments, conserving biodiversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
For this purpose, the project selects ten threatened, native species of the cloud mountain forest with special value for the local communities. After identifying the ten target tree species, the aim is to obtain at least 20,000 seeds for the propagation. Therefore, Pronatura identifies land with the potential for reforestation and selects them based on spatial geo-data, expert opinion, and field visits. The organisation establishes agreements with private landowners in a signed document. Besides, the management of the collected seeds and seedlings is improved. Afterwards, the project plants 10,000 trees using the seedlings from the nursery and monitors the survival of a significant subsample of the planted trees. Moreover, a standardised system of traceability from seed collection to planting and monitoring is developed for research and communication purposes. Finally, the project develops information materials for the public and private landowners about the importance of native tree species as well as for nursery staff on propagation techniques. In this way, other organisations can easily adopt the project and the standardised traceability system.
KI Small Grants supports Pronatura Veracruz in their organisational capacity development through:
- Attend courses about ecosystem restoration to strengthen the capacities of the team
- The development of a strategic plan for Pronatura Veracruz as a measure to increase efficiency and success in their conservation work.
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
Pronatura Veracruz is a non-profit organisation with the mission to conserve flora and fauna, priority ecosystems, and promote social development in harmony with nature. Since 1991 the organisation has been working to protect and restore ecosystems with a focus on the communities’ wellbeing. Further, they promote environmental education and public communication to increase awareness of the importance of biodiversity. Through its work, the organisation is well known on a national and international level.