Native Future and the US Forest Service International Programs have engaged in a new cooperative agreement, Wounaan Biocultural Forest Restoration, to increase community-based technical knowledge and to develop a seed collection and saving strategy to restore and diversify their forests. Technical assistance is being provided to Wounaan communities to improve practices in monitoring and maintenance of tree seedling health in the face of pests, fungus, disease, and poor soils.
Through reforestation, the community of Rio Hondo is planning for the future. Farmers have already planted thousands of ecologically and culturally important trees, which will take 30 years to grow to full maturity. They have an additional 6,000 trees ready to be planted for the upcoming year. During their lifespans, these trees will provide much-needed habitats for migratory birds, as well as the restoration of native tree species. Community members involved in the reforestation project hope to provide their children and grandchildren with the resources they need to maintain the Wounaan way of life.
“Thanks to this project, I’ve learned to think more about the future,” says the local Wounaan reforestation facilitator. “Before, we didn’t even think about collecting seeds, or how to plant them. But now, we are able to create our vision for the future.” By supporting Wounaan to revitalize their traditional seed collection and saving practices, and sponsoring further training in areas such as integrated pest management, Native Future–in partnership with USFS IP–is helping the Wounaan people realize their vision.