It’s been a long first week of volunteering here in Nicaragua. However, despite the hard work and the intensity of the midday sun, it’s certainly turned out to be a rewarding one too.
It began with an early start on the Tuesday morning. We travelled to a local primary school where we helped to plant trees in the school grounds, followed by a trip to a local river where we planted trees along the bank. This was part of a reforestation project which aims to regain some of the woodland which has been lost over the years in the Mozonte area in northern Nicaragua.
Deforestation is a major problem in Nicaragua. The harsh climate during the dry season has caused many forest fires over the years, leading to the destruction of large areas of native woodland. Many indigenous communities lack the resources to afford alternative sources of energy so have instead turned to chopping down trees for firewood.
Rene, one of the national volunteers working with us on the project, explained that droughts are also becoming a regular occurrence. He mentioned that the work we’re doing to plant trees along the river bank will help bring vital protection to the rivers which are the main water resources in the area.
However, despite the problems that many communities face, there certainly seems to be a belief amongst people here that something can be done to reverse the destruction done. The Nicaraguan government in recent years have introduced a law stating that for every tree that is cut down, ten more must be planted in its place.
The problems faced in Nicaragua due to deforestation aren’t confined to its borders. This is an international problem which sees thousands of acres of woodland disappear every day. Back in the UK, forest fires may not be as prevalent, but deforestation and the loss of natural habitats is a serious problem.
For me, the countrywide initiatives and the willingness of ordinary people to fight to protect the natural habitats of Nicaragua should be seen as an example for other countries which face similar problems.