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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reforestation in Laguna de Apoyo II

A view of almost any part of our planet by airplane demonstrates the dramatic effects humans have on it. The number and sizes of places where wild animals rule and humans do not make dramatic alterations are far exceeded by those where trees are removed, buildings are built, concrete is poured, and roads are built. There are more people on our planet every day, and fewer places for wild animals to live.

Wilderness areas are under attack, especially in places like Nicaragua. Land is cheap, and laws to prevent forest destruction often don't get enforced. When land is scenic, such as at Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, wilderness might not stay wild long, regardless of laws and regulations. Cutting trees, hunting wildlife, clearing land, and building houses are all illegal here, but many of these activities occur anyway, because vigilance and enforcement is insufficient.

The dream of many US citizens is to own a little corner of paradise, and places like Laguna de Apoyo appeal to lots of them. Although many honest real estate agents can be found in Nicaragua, Laguna de Apoyo is overwhelmed by unscrupulous agents, investors and speculators, often advertising "ready to build" for lots where construction is not permitted. These people entice foreigners to drop their money on property with a great view, a gorgeous, warm lake before it, basically by fooling them. At Estacion Biologica Laguna de Apoyo, we often receive visitors who have bought land in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve under deception, and these people are always regretful of their purchases.
It is a shame to watch people discard their lifetime savings on something too good to be true, which, alas, is not true.

What is sadder than watching drama unfold in the lives of many, unwitting US citizens who experience buyer regret, however, is the terrible implications on the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Almost daily, we witness the unnecessary and illegal destruction of natural areas around us. Rather than just sit and watch helplessly as this wild area vanishes, we work closely with the Nicaraguan Police, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MARENA), the local municipality of Catarina, environmentalist organizations and the local community to keep Laguna de Apoyo wild. Among the actions we take to save our beautiful surroundings is to plant trees and shepherd them on their way to regeneration of good forest.
trees in Nicaragua
Lots of trees were donated to the Laguna de Apoyo Reforestation Project by CARUNA, and Movimiento Ambientalista Guardabarranco provided strategic support and lots of energy in planting them. Photo by Jeffrey Munguia.
September 7, 2012 became a big day for us in our attempt to plant the most trees possible. We had thousands of small trees in our nursery at Estacion Biologica Laguna de Apoyo, and two more good months of rain on their way made the date ideal for planting these trees in the forest.
environment Nicaragua
Nicaraguan volunteers carrying saplings of native trees converge on the reforestation site in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo by Jeffrey Munguia. 
MARENA and Movimiento Ambientalista Guardabarranco organized local participation from Masaya, along with our friends and neighbors inside our area. We moved more than 2500 trees to the planting sites, and people were digging holes with shovels, machetes, and even sticks. More people than implements were available, but there was plenty to do.
reforestation
Trees, trees, and more trees. Photo by Jeffrey Munguia.
Volunteers responded to the call, from Masaya, Granada, San Juan de Oriente, Catarina, and Masatepe, and lots of foreigners visiting in the area came, too. We were amazed by the massive participation in our reforestation activity, which reflected local interest in protecting and caring for Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Many Nicaraguans want to participate actively in caring for the environment, and this location is deep in the hearts of many of them.
Laguna de Apoyo
Enthusiastic participation of Nicaraguan volunteers made our tree-planting day a tremendous success. Photo by Jeffrey Munguia.
A road which was once used to enter La Abuela Lodge was blocked, and we planted hundreds of trees along its length. The land, owned by the municipality, was deemed to be no longer a route for vehicular traffic, so we helped to reconvert it to part of the forest!
Laguna de Apoyo
Local schools, neighborhood organizations, and many agencies from Masaya helped with our tree-planting activity. CARUNA and the Ministry of Family Economics also aided by bringing refreshments which were welcome after a few hours of hard work by all. Photo by Jeffrey Munguia. 
Our neighbors came and helped, including the children and teachers of the local high school. Our local teachers want their students to learn by doing and to contribute to their community. We enjoy working to save nature in Laguna de Apoyo even more when we see how much Nicaraguans also enjoy this work.
Laguna de Apoyo
Stakes made from branches made excellent implements for digging small holes to place saplings. Thanks to Elmer Nicaragua for devoting extra time from his day for making these stakes. Photo by Jeffrey Munguia.
We always feel rewarded when Nicaraguans are grateful for what we do and want to share their effort with us. This day showed clearly that Nicaraguans care about keeping Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve wild, by the hundreds of people who came with energy and a smile to the reforestation activity. Everyone can help to plant a tree, young and old, and many helped without expecting any kind of recompense beyond the knowledge that they have worked to protect wild nature in their country.

reforestation
While some hammed it up for a photo opportunity, others moved large rocks to block the former road to vehicular traffic. Photo by Jeffrey Munguia. 
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