Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and is one of the countries from which Arvid Nordquist buys its coffee. As a result of Arvid Nordquist's climate compensation, hundreds of thousands of trees are planted each year, which contributes to a positive development in Nicaragua which, otherwise, has suffered from rapid deforestation. The trees bind carbon dioxide and compensate for the emissions generated by our coffee production. The planting of trees allows us to give something back to the country and its inhabitants.
The project in Nicaragua was initiated and is operated by the Canadian non-profit agricultural support organisation Taking Root. The project is developed in accordance with the Plan Vivo standard. Plan Vivo is the organisation that issues the compensation certificates relating to the tree-planting project in Nicaragua.
Social reforestation As the trees grow, the binding of carbon dioxide occurs and the farmer's access to fruit, fuel and wood increases. The planting of indigenous tree species and different types of local plants benefits the ecosystems (plants and animals) and enriches the biological diversity. The production and distribution of efficient stoves, that require less wood and have less of a negative impact on health, also improves the living conditions for the farmers and their families.
In addition to the ecological benefits, the planting of trees creates jobs and contributes to the economic development of an underprivileged region where many farmers are without economic resources. Furthermore, the planting of trees contributes to:
• more-fertile earth, because certain species of trees enrich the soil with nitrogen, which is a vital nutrient for all plants. • the binding together of soil and regulation of water-flow by the trees, which prevents landslides and floods during rainy periods and maintains water-retention in the ground during dry periods. • lower and more-stable temperatures as a result of tree and forest-cover, having a positive impact on the microclimate. • the reduction of deforestation in the local area, as the project makes many small-scale farmers self-sufficient in wood. • increased income in the form of, for example, timber, wood, honey, and fruit. • the reduction of poverty and the provision of improved standards of living. • the increased capacity and knowledge of individuals and within the community, allowing them to cope with social, economic and environmental challenges. • increased enterprise and initiative, through the establishment of, for example, plant nurseries.
The planting of trees provides hope - Farmer Maria's story
Maria Elisa Blandon is one of those who is involved in the tree-planting project. This is her account of the project.
"In 2010, Taking Root came to our small village and asked if we were interested in taking part in their projects. I was unsure, as were many others. Most organisations that have come to Nicaragua for similar projects have left as soon as they are finished, and life has returned to the way it was before. Therefore, I said no. But, after a year, I noticed that Taking Root were still here. My neighbour Juan, who had joined the project when it was launched, received his first money from Taking Root once they had verified that the trees that he'd planted on his land were still standing*. Juan and his family spoke positively about Taking Root, about their knowledge, enthusiasm and cheerful approach. He persuaded me and my family to join them, and more families have also joined since then.
We have been involved at every stage. We began by helping to select the tree species which are suited to our natural environment. We gathered and sowed seeds, and planted the seedlings. We then protected the plants to give them the best opportunity to grow to become large trees. Taking Root gave me an interest-free loan so that I could buy a fence to put around my plants. Now the cattle cannot eat my plants.
We plant trees on that part of our land that we do not normally farm; it is, after all, agriculture which provide us with food and income during the whole year. At the same time, this means that we don't need to leave our local area to chop down trees for wood, as the project combines different species of trees, to meet our varying needs**.
Taking Root supports us and provides us with the knowledge we need in order to remain as part of the project, and I think the future looks bright. I am grateful to them and to companies like Arvid Nordquist that ensure that there is money available to make all this possible. My family is doing better and I have an opportunity to help create a greener Nicaragua. I dream of restoring the Nicaragua I remember from my childhood, with green forests everywhere. When I look out of the window, I see my grandchildren sitting under one of the trees I planted. Now I dare to hope that the dream may come true."
Footnote: * By weighing and taking measurements, Taking Root confirm that the trees are thriving and are growing as they should. Any tree that dies must be replaced, according to the rules. From the outset, some extra seedlings will be planted to compensate for any plants that will not survive.
** Farmers plant a mixture of larger, carbon dioxide-binding trees and smaller trees which will be used for firewood. These can all be planted tightly together (so that the land is used efficiently) and when the larger, carbon dioxide-binding trees begin to demand more space, the trees for firewood will be ready to be felled. The carbon dioxide-binding trees have a rotation time of 20-40 years, whilst that for the firewood trees is only 3-5 years. The firewood trees have less of a beneficial effect in terms of climate, but they provide the farmers with wood and a source of income (when they sell the wood), whilst also removing their need to fell trees from other areas in order to survive.