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Wounaan Reviving Traditional Practices, Planting More Trees

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

The seed and stock of many of the trees and plants important to Wounaan culture, ecology and local economy are growing scarce and not available in local seed banks. Species that contribute to their arts and handicrafts, music and dance and traditional construction are getting harder to find due to deforestation. Also, there is limited experience restoring them. Last year, the program, JẼB JUA CHOOG K´AP´AWËN RRAAG, or Biocultural Restoration as we know it in English, began a process of documenting traditional planting practices to revitalize their knowledge, and to diversify the trees they plant.

This August 30 – September 3, Project Coordinator, Ernesto Piraza, led a workshop with representatives, young and old, of five Wounaan communities to review the traditional seed saving, collecting and planting practices born out of interviews with elders that took place last year. Together, they identified additional practices to incorporate into the Wounaan tree planting guide which is being translated into their native language, Wounaan meu. They also identified target species to plant, by each community, and developed a draft seed sharing and diversification strategy, including development of a seed bank and a steering committee made up of the five communities.

In 2024, the Native Stewardship program will support the implementation of their seed diversification strategy.

Above: Workshop participants discussing seed diversification strategies.

Meanwhile, an additional 6,159 seedlings were planted by 56 families in Rio Hondo and Rio Platanares in the past year. 20,000 trees have been planted in 4 communities since 2018.

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