This week we had the exciting opportunity to learn from and help a reforestation organisation. Carbono Comunitario is an organisation that works with local communities and families in the San Juan de Limay area. They provide them with roughly 1,000 plants per plot of land, and educate them on how to sustainably plant, maintain and cut the weaker trees. As well as improving the fertility of the land and helping our changing climate, the cut down trees act as another source of income for the family.

We were taken to a site near Parcila early in the morning, where Elsa, from Carbono Comunitario, carefully demonstrated how to plant our seedling trees. I felt as though we were going to experience a cliché ‘gap-yah’ familiarity. Going away to a developing country, planting trees to save the world, all to feel like better people. However, this wasn’t the case and soon this lead to a realisation and a personal reflection.

Gardening to me is seen as a therapeutic process and planting these seedlings gave me flashbacks to my childhood, of peaceful moments working on my grandad’s allotment back home in Watford. Picking, planting and eating carrots and peapods throughout the warm summer months, brushing off the dirt and experiencing a community away from the concrete jungle. Planting these trees also reminded me of a conservation project I really enjoyed working for, which was designed to increase the British insect population; planting and harvesting organic vegetables. Although these projects differ in many ways, it was great to realise, how important conservation is on both sides of the Atlantic.

Half way through our morning of planting, Elsa showed us some larger trees that had been planted two years ago. She explained how we should be careful when planting these young trees as any root damage can lead to them not developing. We would be sending the tree to a life of death and consequently murdering these trees and any economic income they hold for the families in the process. Elsa wanted to share this with us as she could see we were ethically conscious and how vigilantly we cared for the plants that were around us. Carbono Comunitario is working with families to share knowledge on sustainable planting and maintenance of trees. For some families this concept of sustainable foresting is a new method, and so the work of Carbono Comunitario is extremely important. 

Brushing off the dirt from my hands, I could see the impact we can make as a group, and equally as individuals. It filed me with optimism to learn about the fantastic opportunities being given to so many families; increasing their awareness of climate change whilst improving their economic income. These trees should live on for years, emanating energy to the earth and all living things.

Written by ICS volunteer Kate Mooney