*Successful reforestation programme helps conserve an Ecuadorian dry forest, a habitat believed to be in critical danger of destruction*

The volunteers at Pro-Bosque’s 2011 reforestation day. The volunteers are proudly wearing their Pro-Bosque T-shirts. Photo © Pro-Bosque.

The annual tree planting event in the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest in western Ecuador saw 88 local people take part. The event, organised by conservation group Fundación Pro-Bosque who manage the protected forest, is part of a larger reforestation programme funded by World Land Trust (WLT). During a four hour period, the *volunteers planted an impressive 1,900 native trees, helping to reforest areas within Cerro Blanco *that had been cleared prior to protection of the forest in 1989. This forms part of the 55,000 trees Fundación Pro-Bosque is to plant this year at Cerro Blanco with the support of the WLT, adding to the 298,851 trees that the organisation has already planted in the area to date with WLT’s support. The event was a huge success as the ambitious reforestation programme has to coincide with the winter rains as there is no on-site watering system on the reserve, giving just a two month window of opportunity to get all the trees planted. This is the fourth consecutive year that/ /Fundación* *Pro-Bosque has organised *the tree-planting event and it forms an important part of their much larger environmental education plan. *Eric von Horstman, Executive Director of Pro-Bosque, said:


“Through this tree planting event, Fundación Pro-Bosque seeks to create more public awareness and support for its conservation programmes in the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest. Ecuador suffers one of the highest deforestation rates in South America and it is essential that Ecuadorians recognise the damage that is being done through rampant and un-controlled deforestation that is destroying the county’s natural heritage.”


-Does tree-planting really work?-

Volunteers tree planting in Cerro Blanco Protected Forest. The forest was cleared prior to protection by Pro-Bosque. Photo © Pro-Bosque.

When carried-out using an appropriate mix of native species, with sensitivity to the ecology of the area and the needs of local communities, reforestation can be a powerful tool for restoring degraded and fragmented forest habitat, as well as creating buffer zones around key biodiversity hotspots.  Slope stabilisation, reduced rates of soil erosion and improved hydrological flow are other benefits of reforestation, especially in upland areas. Tree-planting projects fail because many organisations do not have a strict process in place to do monitoring and secure the long-term success of the reforestation. This is largely because it is labour intensive, time consuming and costs money. Yet without a thoroughly researched method into long term management, tree-planting is often futile. *Pro-Bosque employs a strict system of research, labour and maintenance to ensure the success of their reforestation programme*. Much time is spent clearing unwanted vegetation to reduce competition and replacing any lost trees, either through planting or assisted natural regeneration. Important field observations and monitoring can be carried out at the same time, providing information on tree health and growth rates, vital for securing the long-term success of the on-going project. WLT currently runs reforestation programmes in four countries across three continents, advancing biodiversity conservation by restoring habitats. *Our partner organisations, such as Fundación Pro-Bosque, are integral to the delivery of the programme* and possess the detailed conservation knowledge to guarantee these biodiversity gains.

-Find out more about WLT’s reforestation programmes:-

· Visit the WLT reserve page for the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest