Reports from Planet
Eco-Ecuador Project 2013
Ecuador Program Director
Planet Drum Foundation
June 21- August 19, 2013
Note: Click on photos for larger picture
The view of the interior
of the greenhouse. Seedbeds with germinating seedlings are ready to be
transplanted, while seedlinges grow in bottles for donation and field
planting towards the end of the year.]
Summer (verano) has set in
and the days tend to be cooler and overcast with a nice breeze blowing
through. When the sun comes out it's still hot, but not like during winter (el
invierno). This will likely be the typical weather pattern until late
December. It's been a busy summer so far with lots of volunteers and several
visiting groups, which has been great and we've been accomplishing a lot on
|Jay, Ted, Trent, William, Itxaso, and Joffrey mix soil at the greenhouse.
|Eric prepares a coral for storing trees inside the greenhouse.
Revegetation project work has been
divided between the greenhouse and watering at the three field sites that we
planted earlier in the year (Universidad Católica, El Bosque en Medio de las
Ruinas, and Bellavista). At the greenhouse, hundreds and hundreds of baby
trees are growing until later in the year when they will
be donated or planted in the field. Seedbeds of Caoba, Chirimoya, Pechiche,
Guachepeli, Guayaba, Tierramonte, and Algarrobo are bursting with seedlings
that need transplanting. This is where having large groups of visitors is
crucial, since transplanting the trees is very labor intensive. Soil is
mixed, bottles cut and filled with soil, and then each tree is carefully
moved from the seedbed to its individual container.
|Volunteers mix compost.
|Ian and Clay at the municipal
garbage separation facility pick plastic bottles from a large pile
In late June, William and a group of
four students from Sage Educators in California visited for a couple of
weeks. While they were here we paid a visit to the Rio Muchacho Organic Farm
and Ecological School. We delivered a batch of trees and had a revegetation
workshop with the students and teachers at this alternative school. We
planted trees at the school and on nearby properties. The students even took
trees home to their houses to plant with their families as homework.
|Nicola from the Rio Muchacho
Organic Farm welcomes us to the Ecological School.
|Orlando teaches a group of students from the Ecological School
about tree planting.
|The students watch as Orlando plants a Pechiche tree at their
|Dario, with his child, students
from the Ecological School and Planet Drum volunteers plant trees
around the school.
In early July, the Children of Ecuador
Foundation from Spruce Grove in Alberta, Canada came to volunteer at a
variety of projects in and around Bahia. Children of Ecuador has been a
partner organization with Planet Drum since 2007 and this year they came
with a group of twenty-plus volunteers. They spent several days over the
course of two weeks working with Planet Drum. In addition to helping us
water all three revegetation sites from 2013, they assisted in greenhouse
tasks. In a single morning they transplanted 825 baby Caoba trees!
|Volunteers from the Children
of Ecuador Foundation (CoE) carry water to trees at the revegetation site in
El Bosque en Medio de las Ruinas.
|At the greenhouse, CoE volunteers tackle an enormous pile of
plastic bottles that need to be cut.
|CoE helped us transplant 825 Caoba seedlings in a single
|CoE volunteers transplating Caoba trees.
Their group brought passion and
motivation to the work and we even took on a couple of social side-projects.
The projects consisted of replacing and expanding the roof over the communal
cob oven in Bellavista. Also, with guidance from Orlando, we decided to help
one of the most disadvantaged families in Bellavista by completely
rebuilding part of their house that was collapsing. An elderly couple lives
in the house with their daughter and the mother is blind. The entire
kitchen, one whole side of the house, was rotten and very dangerous. In an
incredibly generous act, the Children of Ecuador Foundation provided the
materials and much of the labor in order to replace a this huge portion of
their house. Planet Drum, Bahía, and the residents of Bellavista extend
their gratitude to the continued support from this pro-active foundation and
we look forward to continuing to collaborate in the future!
|CoE analyzes the situation
at Papito's house, where an entire side of the house that was collapsing was
reconstructed with new materials.
|Papito admires his brand new kitchen.
In other news, the Coorporación Nacional
de Electricidad (CNEL) has partnered with Planet Drum to deliver one tree
per $500 invested in electrical infrastructure by the Ecuadorian Government.
This is an excellent opportunity for Planet Drum to impact the larger Dry
Tropical Forest region since CNEL has been assisting with transporting and
delivering our trees to communities outside of Bahía. Each community
representative gets a batch of trees that they distribute to individual
households, so each household receives one or two trees. We are working
closely with CNEL and the communities to deliver trees that are the most
sought after and will have the highest likelihood of being properly planted
and cared for. Note: normally, trees are distributed closer to the rainy
season, but we need to work with CNEL's schedule in this case and since
trees are being distributed to individual households, presumably, each house
has enough water to be able to properly plant and water the trees they
||Becky, Ana, Eric, Itxaso,
and Isa help unload trees for residents in Crucita.
CNEL invited us to accompany them one
day while delivering trees. We traveled with them to the Crucita area (45
minutes south of Bahía) to hand out trees to community leaders. While
distributing trees we had an opportunity to talk directly with the
recipients of the trees and discuss various ecological topics. We also gave
them copies of the Revegetation Manual and offered pointers to planting and
tending to the trees. All of the residents were very eager to receive trees
and were pleased with the species, mostly native fruit producers, that we
were distributing. The community president expressed interest in
collaborating on a larger scale project in the future and we will remain in
contact with her about this.
||Students from the Montufar
school visit the PD greenhouse.
|Clay gives an introduction to bioregionalism, ecology, and revegetation to Montufar students at the greenhouse.
We held another Revegetation Workshop
with students from the Montufar school at the greenhouse. A large group of
students and two teachers came to the greenhouse to learn about the Planet
Drum Revegetation Project and assist in transplanting seedlings. It was a
fun and high intensity morning and the students were full of energy! At the
end, many of them were asking when they could come back to help out more.
Almost all of the students requested trees to take home and plant. We are
planning to do more collaboration with the students, including tree
donations, in the coming months.
|After introducing PD revegetation methods, the Montufar students dive into the hands-on work:
|Orlando instructs students how to delicately handle the
||Eric helps Montufar students dig up Pechiche seedlings from the
For the past three months, three interns
have been working on a variety of side-projects to complement the
Revegetation Project. Eric, a community engagement intern from the George
Washington University graduate International Development program, has
focused his work on investigating composting toilets and composed a guide to
building and properly using and maintaining composting toilets in this
climate. Orlando has a brand new composting toilet at his house and there
are talks of a Peace Corps project that would build more in of them in the
Bellavista community. Eric jumped on this opportunity to educate residents
about the benefits of composting toilets. The 10-page guide has been
completed and will soon be published on the Planet Drum website in addition
to distributing hard copies to residents who have limited computer access.
Becky, a Masters candidate at American
University School of International Affairs, has also been involved in a
community engagement internship and is producing educational materials of
her own. She has compiled a comprehensive introduction to Bioregionalism and
has inspired us to do some research on alternatives to chemical pest
controls. Sadly, conventional agriculture is the norm around Bahía and the
province of Manabí. In Crucita, residents complained of excessive chemical
usage and simultaneous insect plagues, suggesting improper and ineffective
chemical usage. There is a huge potential for promoting organic pest
controls and agricultural practices. Fortunately, there are many plants that
grow wildly in the area that are effective at controlling insect pests, such
as hot peppers and tobacco. Planet Drum is currently experimenting on
the plants at the greenhouse with
organic pesticide recipes and
will be perfecting them to promote to the greater public.
| Joffrey taking GPS points at
the Vientimilles revegetation site from 2008.
| Clay stands next to a Guachapeli tree at the Vientimilles
revegetation site. This tree is 5 years old, and despite the arid conditions
at the hillside, it is already over 5 meters tall.
Joffrey, a professional in GIS and GPS
mapping from France, visited Bahia with his family for over three months and
has been assisting in a revegetation site mapping project. With his help we
revisited all of the past planting sites from the past 10 years of Planet
Drum work. We mapped 50 of them covering over 30 hectares of land! Joffrey
also acquired GPS maps from the local Bahía city government offices and the
Military Geographical Institute in Quito to provide satellite overlays to
the maps. The map is a crucial stepping stone for researching future aspects
of the Revegetation Project and studying the work that we have already done.
It is also the first time that there has been a comprehensive visual
representation of the years of work that we have done on revegetation and
erosion control. An image of the map with be generated and published soon.
|| A Dry Tropical Forest
A solid group of volunteers, including a
volunteer coordinator intern, are already signed up for the coming months,
but there is always more work to do. We are accepting interns and volunteers
on a rolling basis. If you are interested in helping with Planet Drum's
ecological work in Bahía de Caráquez, please contact me at
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