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Reports from Planet Drum Staff
Eco-Ecuador Project 2012

Index to 2012 Reports, Set 2 (March-April, 2012)

Field Report #2

Clay Plager-Unger
Field Projects Manager
Planet Drum Foundation
March-April, 2012

Note: Click on photos for larger picture.

It’s been the rainiest wet season that I’ve seen in my five years in Bahia. This has been fine for Bahia and the immediately surrounding areas, but other wetter regions (inland and to the north) have suffered greatly in the past few months from extreme excesses of water. Bear in mind that Bahia is part of Dry Tropical Forest and the "rainy season" is a relative term, which distinguishes this time of year from the dry season. But this year it did actually rain with regular frequency (multiple times a week), mostly during the nights, for a solid three months (January through March). April has seen less water and it appears as though we are now in transition into the dry season at this point. Fortunately, the ground still retains significant moisture that should last well into the dry season, particularly if we get a few drizzles here and there.

There was a large force of volunteers who stayed with Planet Drum during the past few months. Following the rains, they have petered out and now we are waiting for the summer months (June) for new arrivals to come. Thanks to Elizabeth, Ryan, Alicia, Sam, Aaron, Chris, Claire, Karolina, Jerome, and Nina for all of your hard work. It’s been one of the most productive rainy seasons we’ve had.


The final tree delivery trip with City Councilman Iván Aguirre. This year we made eight trips and distributed 1,694 trees with Iván.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, mostly related to a crippling water crisis at the Univeristy from August through December, a large portion of the trees planted at the University Catolica site from last year didn’t survive, so this year we replanted with new trees.


Alicia digs holes at the University Catolica revegetation site from 2011, where we replanted a huge portion of dead trees that were unable to survive due to a major water crises last year.

View from the revegetation site.

Short-term volunteer Peachy came to help us plant trees for a few days.

Alicia planting trees up on the hillside.
Elizabeth powers up the steep hill with a bucket of trees.

At the greenhouse, nearly all of the 5,000 trees that were produced in 2011 were planted and distributed. We have been cleaning up and organizing in order to produce new trees this year. Planting has started with a bang since Orlando found a couple of locations where baby Pechiches have sprouted on the ground below other larger trees. There are already about 500 little Pechiches growing nicely at the greenhouse, as well as a seed bed full of germinating Pechiche seeds. Additional seedbeds with other species will be planted in the coming weeks and months.


Jerome, Nina, Orlando, Claire, Elizabeth, and Alicia planting baby Pechiche trees collected in the field directly into bottles.

More transplating.

One of the two compost trenches that we have going ensures that this will be a productive year for compost.

Elizabeth waters the seed bed with Pechiche seeds. The Pechiche seeds are soaked in water for 3 days before being planted in the bed to speed germination.

Nina and Jerome clean up inside the greenhouse.

Alicia transplanting Pechiches. 

 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


Nina transplanting. 

 

Photo by Jerome Castellana.


The view from the cross that overlooks Bahia. This is the mouth of the Rio Chone estuary. To the left is the Pacific ocean, to the right the bay. The red arrow points out the Planet Drum apartment and office. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


A fisherman throws his net into the water in the shadow of the bridge. Fishermen can still catch crabs, shrimp and fish right next to the city. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


The sunset view from the beach wall. Some of the local surfers are visible trying to catch the last wave of the day. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


Orlando lightly waters the freshly transplanted trees. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


Orlando digs up baby Pechiche trees from a patio in Fanca. The trees are taken to the greenhouse and planted directly into bottles that were prepared beforehand. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


Bucket-o-Pechiche.

Nina transplanting. 

 

Photo by Jerome Castellana.


More transplanting. 

 

Photo by Jerome Castellana.


Jerome digs up a bucket of compost to mix into soil for the trees. Typical compost mix: one unit compost, one unit sand, one unit rice hills, three units dirt. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


Jerome dumps a bucket of rice hulls into the mix. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


Orlando and Nina take a break from macheteing clear the trees and trails at El Bosque en medio de las Ruinas. 

 

Photo by Jerome Castellana.


Pre-colonial figurines from the indigenous civilizations that populated the central coast of Ecuador on display at the Bahia museum. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


Clay mixes up soil for filling bottles. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


The crew at the greenhouse. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


Orlando, Jerome, Nina, and Clay fill up bottles with soil. 

 

Photo by Elizabeth Jahp.


Orlando, as usual, with a large smile on his face. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.


A corral full of bottles with soil waiting for another batch of transplanted trees. 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.

Grandmaster volunteer, Elizabeth, after five months of volunteering!!! We’ll miss you! 

 

Photo by Nina Gutmacher.

Pásalo bien,
Clay

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