AIR: Helping indigenous farmers in Guatemala to farm with trees to mitigate climate change

The Alliance for International Reforestation Guatemala (AIR) is helping indigenous farmers to learn how to farm with trees, in order to prevent soil erosion, mitigate climate change and improve crop yields and diversity without using dangerous chemicals.

AIR technicians – who are Guatemalan professionals trained in agro-forestry and environmental engineering – educate indigenous farmers about proper tree-planting and agroforestry that provides sustainable farming as well as protection from frequent and dangerous mudslides, and train them in the practice of Regenerative Farming.

Extensive deforestation in mountainous Guatemala, coupled with more intense rains in recent years from climate change means more frequent mudslides every rainy season. In response, AIR technicians and volunteers have intensified planting of native “pino triste” pine trees that have deep, strong tap roots and grow quickly. AIR has planted almost 3 million of these trees on vulnerable mountain slopes.

The native trees planted by local volunteers and farmers help preserve important forests, prevent mudslides and soil erosion, clean the air, provide shade and sequester carbon, which helps mitigate climate change.

To date, AIR has planted over 5.5 million trees and has helped over 5000 families in Guatemala.

AIR says: “Deforestation increases mudslides and devastates the soil, food security, and water sources in Guatemala. AIR recognises the best way to help the people in this area is to improve the land where they live. While reforestation is a key way to assist, AIR has also developed a multi-dimensional approach beyond the obvious planting of trees. One of our goals is for projects to be self-sustaining, ensuring continuous growth within each community, long after AIR moves to new areas.

“All of our projects use the philosophy that direct community involvement in all phases of the projects—from design to implementation—is essential for the sustainability of every project.”

In 1998, a group of women farmers in Itzapa, Guatemala, partnered with AIR to learn how to farm with trees. The women farmers planted thousands of native trees each year, trees that are growing and sequestering carbon into the future.

The 60 women farmers now are leaders of a large tree nursery. They have improved their food crops by farming with trees, created micro‐businesses in order to re‐invest in the tree nursery, and have built fuel‐efficient brick stoves to reduce their use of firewood.

AIR

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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