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Story: Seeing the project first hand

Brooke van Mossel-Forrester is Taking Root’s Business Development and Communications Director, and a co-founder of the organization. She contributes this story:


This past June, I had the privilege of joining our Executive-Director Kahlil Baker in San Juan de Limay to visit the project and take part in the planting activities. It had been over 5 years since I last visited the project, and so much has changed. I just can’t express the level of dedication demonstrated by our farmers to both their growing trees and the environment as a whole.We saw dozens of people at each planting site working so hard to plant hundreds of trees each along hillsides, ravines, rocky terrain and in blazing heat no less. The climate in the region is suffering from a severe lack of forest cover, which we experienced first hand as we walked across dry and wide-open fields.

Since the early development of the project in 2008, it has grown significantly in size and has vastly improved in efficiency. Our team has developed innovative tools and systems to manage our project data, putting us at the cutting edge for forestry offset information management.

Each year our team of technicians travels throughout the region to measure 10% of all trees planted since the beginning of the project. This ensures the proper survival and growth of these trees, and the results are used as an indicator for the farmers’ payments. This year we are now halfway through our monitoring, yet over 50,000 trees have already been measured! This data is recorded and analyzed through the proprietary information management software built by our Technical and Financial Director, David Baumann.

While in Limay, I visited monitoring sites from previous planting years, and saw how the monitoring technicians measured the success and growth rates of the trees using simple forestry tools, digital tablets, and complex data analysis.

A number of farmers from previous years were contributing additional land again this year. While walking through their fields we could see the drastic difference in tree size from earlier years to those just planted this spring. In good growing conditions, trees that are just one year old can easily reach over 6 or 7 feet!

It’s one thing to know about the project through photos and stories, but it’s quite another thing to experience the activities first hand. I strongly encourage others to plan a visit.

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