August 14, 2023
By Kyle Weinstein, Teravana
WellKind’s reforestation program is going on to its third year of carrying out tree planting and ecological restoration in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. This program has grown exponentially and has been a huge success with the indigenous communities that we work with in the region of Lake Atitlán. In 2020 WellKind planted about 4,000 trees, and this year with the help of community leaders and local coffee farmers we have managed to plant 40,000 native trees. All of this work would not be possible without the support from the local farmers we partner with to plant these trees and our team of local experts who have ties to each community.
The reforestation program began because many of the indigenous leaders that we were working with voiced it was one of the things they felt the community needed the most. These trees can provide wood and fruit for local families for decades to come and can improve the lives of the local people. Many families in this region use wood burning stoves and dedicate their lands to farming; a lot of forest coverage has been lost in recent years because of this. This loss of trees has led to the contamination of the freshwater springs and has contributed to much of the erosion that can be seen around Lake Atitlán.
In 2023 we have partnered with over 200 different indigenous families and farmers to get all 40,000 trees planted in eight different villages. Our team sources most of our trees from small nurseries and agro-ecological businesses that are locally owned and operated in the area. The highest priority of this program is to restore the ecological balance of the land by planting native fruit and wood trees in their respective ecosystems. In the three years this program has been running, we have successfully planted over 40 different native species of trees.
There is a whole lot more to this program than meets the eye. Months before the planting season (May-August), our local team is sourcing all of the thousands of trees we need at local nurseries in the area. They are also out in the communities surveying to look for farmers with land that is suitable for tree planting and securing the sites for the planting season. When the planting season is underway, we are loading trucks with enormous amounts of trees, delivering trees to the communities, and distributing. Once the planting is done, our team then has to go and monitor each planting sight to ensure all trees are in the ground. This whole process is a labor of love and dedication to the communities we work with and to the natural environment of Lake Atitlán.
We are excited to see what the 2024 planting season brings us. We are already looking for new communities and places for the reforestation program to expand to. Planting trees for a better future where people and nature can thrive together.