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Reports from Planet Drum Staff
Eco-Ecuador Project 2013

Index to 2013 Reports, Set 1 (February-March 2013)

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Field Report #1

Clay Plager-Unger
Ecuador Program Director
Planet Drum Foundation
February-March 2013

Field Report

Note: Click on photos for larger picture.



Volunteer Simon cuts trails through tall grass at the Punta Gorda nature reserve in order to plant trees at a remote revegetation site.


A visiting volunteer from Colombia helps to plant native Planet Drum trees with the Global Student Embassy group at Punta Gorda.


Global Student Embassy’s Director Lucas’ father joins in the action.


A view of the revegetation site shows limited amounts of existing growth and lots of grasses. This area is an excellent site for practicing “forest conservation” where slow growing species can thrive in an area that is well-protected for preservation purposes.


At the greenhouse, Orlando ops for the hands-on approach to digging up Tierramonte seedlings for transplanting.

 
Vaughn, who spent six months living in Bahia and volunteering with Planet Drum, and Cassie, a Patagonia employee who choose Planet Drum for her company required volunteer time, organize recently transplanted Guachepeli trees at the greenhouse.
 
A stack of the Planet Drum “Dry Tropical Forest Revegetation Manual” (in Spanish) ready to be distributed to local residents. The manual explains revegetation techniques in detail in addition to promoting broader bioregional perspectives.
 

 
Orlando, Planet Drum’s skilled Field Foreman, doing what he does best – and enjoys the most… Macheteing. Here he is macheteing clear a trail at the Universidad Catolica revegetation site.

 
In preparation for Bahia Ecological City’s 14th Anniversary, the local newspaper promoted upcoming events, including coverage of Planet Drum’s annual native tree give-away. A photo from the previous year’s celebration shows Planet Drum staff and volunteers with local residents and of course, reutilized plastic soda bottles with native trees.
 

 
Residents of the KM 19 neighborhood arrive to receive native fruit trees for planting on their farms and at their houses. Last year’s campaign was so successful that residents requested more trees than we could provide. This year, they recognized Ivan Aguirre’s green pick-up truck from a distance and came running to get more trees.
Front, City Councilman Ivan Aguirre proudly providing community service to the residents of KM 19. Orlando sits in the back ready to pass out trees to interested parties. In the background to the left, clear cut hillsides are used for mono-culture agriculture, most likely corn. On the right side, mangrove devastating shrimp farm ponds produce shrimp for export and local consumption.
One resident takes a sampling of native fruit trees including Chirimoya, Pechiche and Mango.
 
Pechiche trees ready to be planted at their new homes.
 

 

 
The Planet Drum tree campaign rolls through KM 20.
 

 
Children show off their trees.
 
Traffic is momentarily blocked as passing vehicles stop to load up with trees.
 

 
A local farmer receives a copy of the Revegetation Manual as well as an arm full of Chirimoya trees. He requested more trees, including Guachepeli, which will be delivered on a future trip.
 

 

 
Back in Bahia, at the Eco-city Open House, Planet Drum trees are scooped up by the crateful and taken away by an eco-taxi.

 
Orlando does his second-favorite task, which is passing out trees while talking about their characteristics and benefits. Bahians who may have been simply strolling down the sidewalk, show up for a free tree and a chance to talk about local ecology.
The open house gets setup while on the left-hand side Orlando hands out trees to passersby.
 
Another triciclo load of trees is transported off to be planted on the neighborhood hillsides surrounding Bahia.
 

 
Orlando gets into conversation while passing out trees.
 

 
Ecological taxi, native fruit trees, and a copy of the Revegetation Manual.
Local residents get into a discussion about tree planting.
 

 
Orlando passes out trees as more people arrive.
 

 
More residents show up as the amount of trees dwindles.
 

 
The local, home-made coconut ice cream maker shows off two Pechiche trees with his ice cream cart.
 
Out in the field, Dewey, who has returned to Bahia for his third visit in six years, helps dig holes at a new revegetation site in the Bellavista community. Dewey spends his summers working for the Forest Service in King’s Canyon so getting into the woods comes naturally.
 

 
Ecuador Program Director, Clay puts the finishing touches on planting a Pechiche tree at the Bellavista revegetation site.
 

 

 
Volunteers Kate and Lizzy from Canada and the United States respectively plant trees in a gully in Bellavista.

 
On a drizzly morning, Kate, Travis, Taylor, and Vaughn transplant Tamarindo trees at the greenhouse.
 
Volunteers help with a major, late-rainy season greenhouse cleanup. Overgrown weeds, dead leaves, and random pieces of greenhouse materials are organized and disposed of as necessary.
 

 
Ben, Andrew and Taylor cut bottles while Adam and Kate rake leaves.
 

 

 
Kate and Adam rake leaves. The remaining trees from 2012 will soon be moved out of the greenhouse to make room for 2013 production.

 
Orlando inspects recently collected Pechiche seeds that are set out to dry to avoid damage from insects. The seeds will be planted in the greenhouse in the coming weeks.
A view of the revegetation site in Bellavista is in the foreground. Volunteers Meredith and Vaughn machete clear trails for tree planting. The existing vegetation is limited to season weeds and scattered shrubs. Trees will provide much greater erosion protection on the steep hillside. In the distance bamboo and government subsidized houses are visible as well as some of the beautiful hillsides that surround Bahia.
 
Vaughn takes a moment to catch his breathe while clearing a trail.
 

 


 
Adam and Kate work on connecting a trail on a particularly steep section of hill.

 
Towards the bottom of the site, Orlando begins digging holes for an area that will be planted with fruit trees.
 
This is the view of the revegetation site in Bellavista. The brilliantly green seasonal vegetation masks the lack large trees whose roots are necessary to prevent imminent erosion risk.
 

 
Volunteers at the greenhouse, including Vaughn’s mother who came to visit, help fill cut soda bottles with freshly mix soil for transplanting trees.
 

 

 
Travis mixes another pile of soil.

 
Meredith and Kate poke holes in the soil filled bottles to prepare them for transplanting.
A large batch of freshly dug up Tamarindo seedlings are ready for transplanting.


 
The volunteers are hard at work filling bottles and transplanting trees.
 

 

 
There is always a little bit more to do at the greenhouse.
 
When a local resident, Gilmer, requested trees for a community planting project that seeks to revegetate the river banks in the Jama region, located to the north approximately an hour away, it was difficult to say no. Once again, Ivan Aguirre provided a huge assistance by lending his truck to deliver the trees.


 
Vigua, a small community near Jama, residents come out to help unload trees and pose next to a makeshift greenhouse that they are assembling with whatever materials they can find. The government provided them with plastic bags to fill with soil for plants. Now they are looking for seeds to collect to plant in them.


While I was there, a passerby stopped to ask what we were doing and took a lime tree with them to plant at their farm.

 
Back at the greenhouse, a class of students studying tourism in Calcetta came to visit our project and lend a hand transplanting trees. Bottles were cut, soil mixed, and over 300 trees transplanted in less than two hours.
 
Tourism students from Calcetta help cut bottles at the Planet Drum greenhouse.

 
Massive piles of soil were mixed for all of the bottles.
 


With all of the help, moving trees around the greenhouse was a cinch.

 
Students make quick work of transplanting Chirimoya trees.
 
With all of the help we were able to transplant Chirimoyas, Tamarindos and Guachepeli trees, over 300 in total.


          Pásalo bien,
                     Clay

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