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A brief history of land-use in Limay

With this short update, we hope to provide you with a brief understanding of the history of land use and land cover in the municipality of San Juan de Limay, where Taking Root’s reforestation project is based.

The landscape of the project area has changed drastically over the past century. Once blanketed in forest with abundant precipitation and wildlife, San Juan de Limay was transformed during the Green Revolution of the 1950s when vast areas of land were cleared for large-scale cotton production. By the end of the 1980s, a drop in world cotton prices left farmers in ruins. The area faced heavy erosion and was contaminated with toxic pesticides, leaving behind what is now a seasonal desert with only small patches of secondary forest at higher elevations.

A dry field at the foot of a deforested mountain range in San Juan de Limay, Nicaragua.

Above: A dry field at the foot of a deforested mountain range in San Juan de Limay, Nicaragua.

The steeper summits of taller mountains still contain some old pine forests, and a few scattered remnants of the giant trees that were once typical in the region still remain throughout the valley. The most common mature large trees are Enterolobium cyclocarpum, Ceiba pentandra, and Albizia saman. These are extremely fast growing trees that are not particularly valuable timbers. Although once abundant in the area, Pacific Mahogany (Swietenia humilis) and Spiny Cedar (Bombacopsis quinata) are close to eliminated from the area.

Through Taking Root’s project, we are working with subsistence farmers to reintroduce these at-risk species, restore nutrients to the soil, bring back natural climate cycles, and more.

Cattle grazing is now the predominant form of land-use in Limay
Above: Cattle grazing is now the predominant form of land-use in Limay.

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