PRACTICE SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY
The development of sustainable forestry practices reinforces other goals.
Upland forests protect and enrich soils, clean and conserve water, provide natural fertilizers and pesticides, produce wood and crops for family use and sale, give needed shade for other valuable crops, and thereby help improve the overall health and economic well-being of families.
The roots of trees capture and hold water, soil and nutrients, releasing it slowly and reducing erosion. The wood produced by trees has been overharvested in the past and used to heat stoves, but Vecinos’ improved stove technologies allow for far less consumption of wood.
Conservation of forests is enhanced by growing trees that are valuable for their crops, as well as their enhancement of other crops by providing needed shade. Shade-grown coffee, for example, is more valuable on the market than sun-loving types. Trees are great sources of varied fruits and nuts that provide new sources of protein, vitamins and other health benefits for family meals and are valuable crops that can be sold.
In 2017, SVH leaders in Washington, DC, helped arrange a grant from the NGO American Forests to plant 15,000 trees in the Santa Barbara department including in most of the SVH villages.
Villagers in La Majada grew seedlings of the ancient Masica tree to plant in an area surrounding a set of springs that had been turned into a park. Candida Murillo taught other villagers to harvest Maya nuts from this tree, grind them and make them into a nutritious warm drink like a milkshake with significant protein. Members of other SVH villages grew coffee seedlings and planted them under taller trees to yield shade-grown coffee.