:: AIR's Main Activities: reforestation
establishment of permanent tree nurseries is the keystone of AIR’s
work. The aim of the nursery projects is to train community
groups to take over the process of reforestation and conservation of
their land. In order to accomplish this, AIR assists community
groups as they organize committees, and then provides them with all the
knowledge and tools they need to establish and maintain tree
nurseries. The community groups are directly responsible for
project activities—planting seeds, caring for the saplings, maintaining
the nurseries and transplanting the trees. In this way, the
community members are empowered to continue with the work after AIR
staff move on to new villages.
AIR has established tree nurseries and trained farmers in over 75
villages, and we regularly add more, which produce more than 200,000
trees per year.
Because the residents
only have limited access to land, and they must farm the land
for food, reforesting in Central America is complicated.
For this reason, AIR has identified species of trees which are not only
good for reforestation, but are also compatible for intercropping and
beneficial to the communities. AIR staff help farmers design Sustainable
agriculture systems in their own fields that include as many trees
as possible—trees such as aliso or leucaena that
fertilize the crops naturally and also prevent soil erosion, and are
extremely fast-growing. Other examples of beneficial trees are
fruit trees that provide a much-needed source of nutrition, and the
Gravilea trees which can be planted together with coffee crops to
provide the needed shade.
Fruit Trees and
AIR staff train community members on production and grafting techniques
for a variety of fruit trees and native decorative trees.
Oftentimes, community members choose to start micro-businesses to sell
fruit trees and fruit products and decorative trees—AIR even has a
small store they can use! AIR believes that if tree nurseries
become income-generating, the communities will have an added incentive
to continue reforestation programs.
In 1997, AIR began a project to grow medicinal plants, to combat
stomach problems, colds, and other common illnesses. Using the
knowledge of the Mayan women, AIR has been able to establish a dozen
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