State of Nayarit, USDA, Ser Su Voz, Ecosfera
Nayarit State of Mexico contains one of the largest mangrove forests in the New World. However, this forest is under threat to conversion to aquacultural shrimp ponds and urban development for tourism. The combination of coastal and riparian deforestation results in flooding that has devastated community health and homes. Coastal erosion is accelerated by removal of large tracts of mangrove that, in turn, threatens the economic viability of the region whose major commodities are fishing and tourism. Upstream from coastal mangroves are riparian conduits coming down out of subtropical mountain watersheds. These dry tropical forests have been cut down to make pasture-land for cattle. Centuries after the first trees were cut, heavy top-soil loss, formation of deep gullies, and soil compaction from cattle, has resulted in unproductive landscapes and reduced water availability. Because of this, there is great momentum to restore degraded forests.
Rural communities depend heavily on the quality of land for livelihood, and the way that millions of hectares of rural private land are managed impacts food and water supply to urban areas. We work with rural communities throughout Nayarit, La Paz, and Kino Bay to develop large-scale reforestation projects. Last year, we designed and led a restoration education field school in Nayarit where we worked with K-12 schools to promote conservation through nature trail development.
There is a great need to increase community awareness of the negative effects of deforestation, and to accelerate the building of environmental groups capable of reforesting huge areas of deforested lands. In order to catalyze this process, we have identified reforestation demonstration projects in Nayarit, La Paz, and Kino Bay. Our theme of clean water in the Gulf of California ties together multiple countries and many cultures in a common cause. From the inputs of the Colorado River watershed from Arizona to Mexico, we tie together communities and schools in conservation-based exchange programs.
Community groups and K-12 students are involved in the propagation and planting of trees. Students engage in a communication campaign to share the need to protect coastal and riparian habitats. These projects include the development of nature trails that promote conservation awareness and include links to additional information and invitations to participate in community stewardship projects. Through these community-based efforts, our goal is to plant one million trees a year by 2023.