Reforestation in Nicaragua
Naturaleza Organic Jewelry was born from Marlon's love for all of the beautiful materials he found exploring Nicaragua as a child and archaeologist. The community where he grew up is located in the mountains where most people are subsistence farmers or small cattle ranchers.
Deforestation in San Lorenzo has led to myriad issues, especially the scarcity of water. The rivers that were once deep enough for swimming now hold only a trickle of water when they are wet, making it impossible to irrigate. When big rains come many are at risk for disaster from mudslides caused by eroding deforested land. The effects of deforestation and climate change disproportionately affect the poor.
As part of our commitment to sustainability, we have invested in reforestation in Nicaragua by starting close to home, on the land surrounding the home where Marlon's mother was raised and where his 11 siblings also grew up. Recently the area was arid cattle pasture, the only trees located on the banks of the drying river. Now thousands of new trees are growing, already beginning to provide shade and habitat. This area will eventually be a private nature reserve accessible to the community and tourists.
One of our favorite things to do in San Lorenzo is to take a hike deeper into the hills where it's possible to spot howler monkeys. Never have we heard them or seen them anywhere near the house, until this year. The trees are large enough that they now have a canopy and corridor towards the house from the river. The first time we heard their howls we couldn't believe our ears!
As a second phase in the long-term project of protecting Nicaraguan nature and wildlife, we acquired property on the iconic mountain Quizaltepe, also deforested. Pockets of forest still exist on Quizaltepe, but cattle farming encroaches on them more each year. The mountain is also being prospected for gold mining, which would have disastrous environmental consequences. We have planted thousands of trees on this land, with hopes that one day it will be a beautiful spot for camping before undertaking the Quizaltepe summit hike.
It's common for eco-conscientious businesses to "plant a tree" for every sale. But we know from our first hand experience that successful long-term reforestation requires a lot of work. The trees don't just have to be planted, first they are grown from seed. Once they are planted, they must be lovingly cared for, weeded, watered, fertilized and pruned. Even hardwoods have to be pruned encourage growth many years after they are planted.
In the long run we hope that the reforested areas will be able to generate new income sources for the community through eco-tourism. In the short term, the arborists caring for the trees have a source of income where work is very scarce and many are migrating to Costa Rica and the US.
This is work we have always wanted to do, it's very personal to us. We have a lot of feelings about all of the "greenwashing" by businesses, so much so that we have been awfully quiet about the work we are doing. But we've learned that most of our customers have a connection to our values and our story, and this is another important part of our story to share. Your support for Naturaleza Organic Jewelry makes it possible for us to directly impact climate change and its effects on rural Nicaragua.