Scores of volunteers in communities across El Salvador today are mobilizing to plant over one million trees in 71 municipalities. This “Plantatón 2017” is a campaign by the Ministry of Environment to reforest areas of El Salvador in an effort to restore and protect life-giving watersheds.
Our partners at the Mangrove Association are joining in by rehabilitating 20 hectares of mangrove forest using Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) in the Bay of Jiquilisco.*
Community members, Mangrove Association staff, wetlands rangers, and government officials like Congresswoman Estela Hernández of Usulután are all pitching in to achieve this ambitious conservation goal.
El Salvador is the second most deforested country in Latin America after Haiti, with forest covering only five percent of its land area. El Salvador has lost 60% of its forest cover since 1950, and continues to lose mangroves at a rate of 681 hectares per year.
But what do trees have to do with smart watershed management?
A watershed’s vegetation affects the quantity and quality of the water supply. Deforested land does a poor job absorbing rain, leading to erosion, polluted runoff, sedimentation of waterways, and a higher chance of flooding.
Forest topsoil, on the other hand, is incredibly absorbent: the layers of fallen leaves, branches, and roots, and the plant and animal life that forests nurture, make it porous and spongy. As a result, “an inch of average forest top soil absorbs fifty times as much water as an equal depth of bare, silty loam.”
Healthy forests therefore play a critical role in recharging groundwater, filtering out contaminants, and preventing flooding further down in the watershed. Mangroves also buffer coastal communities against severe weather and are important in capturing carbon from the atmosphere.
Plantatón 2017 will help ensure clean, abundant water and thriving ecosystems for El Salvador. Keep up the good work!
*We would like to thank the following institutions for their support in our mangrove protection and restoration efforts: Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the WE Fund, the Waitt Foundation, the Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation.