Yucatán Restoration

Our 124-people strong restoration team on the Yucatan Peninsula is working hard to plant 2–3 million trees in the upcoming rainy season from July to December 2021. Thanks to the incredibly dedicated and efficient work of our team, we are able to plant one tree for every euro donated.
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Countdown to Planting Season 2021
6.3
Million
Trees Planted 2015–2020

Yucatán Reforestation

Our 124-people strong restoration team on the Yucatan Peninsula is working hard to plant 2–3 million trees in the upcoming rainy season from July to December 2021. Thanks to the incredibly dedicated and efficient work of our team, we are able to plant one tree for every euro donated.
Donate Trees
Countdown to Planting Season 2021
6.3
Million
Trees Planted 2015–2020

Replanting Pastures and Restoring Forests

We are working to restore the forest landscapes in and around the San Felipe Bacalar Natural Protected Area, as well as the Balam-Kú and Calakmul Biosphere Reserves. Our work takes place within 20,000 hectares, an area larger than the country of Liechtenstein.

Our sites have suffered different levels of degradation: Some areas are recently abandoned cattle pastures with only a few scattered trees left (like parts of Las Americas 5 & 7).

Other areas were never fully deforested, but either economically valuable trees have been logged or significant proportions of the forest were destroyed by fires (like San Felipe Bacalar A and B), leaving behind relatively species-poor vegetation. In other areas, the forest is still full of many species and we are either conserving it or letting it grow back on its own (like Las Americas 3 & 4).

Explore the sites
22,500 Hectares on Yucatán and hundreds of small farmers in Mexico

Planting over 20 Native Species

After mainly planting eight species in phase one of the project, we will plant over 20 species this year, to get closer to restoring the original level of tree biodiversity that existed in these forests. This includes many early successional species for our restoration in formerly pasture sites and dense wood species in our enrichment planting work. The blue species are especially flood-tolerant, a very important attribute for some of the sites we are restoring this year.
  • Ramón (Brosimum alicastrum)
  • Chakaj (Bursera simaruba)
  • Chacté Viga (Caesalpinia mollis)
  • Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra)
  • Luuch/Jicara (Crescentia cujete)
  • Pich/Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum)
  • Madre de cacao (Gliricidia sepium)
  • Pixoy (Guazuma ulmifolia)
  • Palo de tinte (Haematoxylum campechianum)
  • Guayacan amarillo (Handroanthus chrysanthus)
  • Waxim (Leucaena leucocephala)
  • Tzalam (Lysiloma latisiliquum)
  • Jabín (Piscidia piscipula)
  • Passak (Simarouba glauca)
  • Caoba (Swietenia macrophylla)
  • Maculis (Tabebuia rosea)
  • Cedro (Cedrela odorata)
We are also growing 13 additional species from our seed-collection program. However, we are not certain if we are able to germinate and grow all of them in sufficient numbers to plant them at scale this year.
  • Kaatsim (Acacia gaumeri)
  • Anonillo (Annona reticulata)
  • Mareña (Caesalpinia versicaria)
  • Taa k'in che' (Caesalpinia yucatanensis)
  • Pimienta ché (Colubrina arborescens)
  • Chukum (Havardia albicans)
  • Corcho (Heliocarpus mexicanus)
  • K'anasín (Lonchocarpus rugosus)
  • K'an kaat (Luehea speciosa)
  • Káatsim blanco (Mimosa bahamensis)
  • Granadillo (Platymiscium yucatanum)
  • K'an lool (Senna racemosa)
  • Cabo de hacha (Trichilia hirta)

Planting over 20 Native Species

After mainly planting eight species in phase one of the project we will plant over 20 species this year, to get closer to restoring the original level of tree biodiversity that existed in these forests. This includes many early successional species for our restoration in formerly pasture sites and dense wood species in our enrichment planting work. The blue species are especially flood tolerant, a very important attribute for some of the sites we are restoring this year.

  • Ramón (Brosimum alicastrum)
  • Chakaj (Bursera simaruba)
  • Chacté Viga (Caesalpinia mollis)
  • Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra)
  • Luuch/Jicara (Crescentia cujete)
  • Pich/Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum)
  • Madre de cacao (Gliricidia sepium)
  • Pixoy (Guazuma ulmifolia)
  • Palo de tinte (Haematoxylum campechianum)
  • Guayacan amarillo (Handroanthus chrysanthus)
  • Waxim (Leucaena leucocephala)
  • Tzalam (Lysiloma latisiliquum)
  • Jabín (Piscidia piscipula)
  • Passak (Simarouba glauca)
  • Caoba (Swietenia macrophylla)
  • Maculis (Tabebuia rosea)
  • Cedro (Cedrela odorata)
We are also growing 13 additional species from our seed-collection program. However, we are not certain if we are able to germinate and grow all of them in sufficient numbers to plant them at scale this year.
  • Kaatsim (Acacia gaumeri)
  • Anonillo (Annona reticulata)
  • Mareña (Caesalpinia versicaria)
  • Taa k'in che' (Caesalpinia yucatanensis)
  • Pimienta ché (Colubrina arborescens)
  • Chukum (Havardia albicans)
  • Corcho (Heliocarpus mexicanus)
  • K'anasín (Lonchocarpus rugosus)
  • K'an kaat (Luehea speciosa)
  • Káatsim blanco (Mimosa bahamensis)
  • Granadillo (Platymiscium yucatanum)
  • K'an lool (Senna racemosa)
  • Cabo de hacha (Trichilia hirta)

Semi-evergreen Tropical Forest

We aim to restore a seasonal semi-evergreen tropical forest. Unlike the wetter forests we imagine when we think of the tropics, these forests have 4–6 month long dry seasons where only little rain falls. Where we work, 25–50% of the trees drop their leaves during that time because they are water stressed.

In the state of Campeche, where our work takes place, 8.1% of the original forest has been lost since 2002. Restoring this ecosystem is not just important for plants, but also the animals. In Campeche, jaguars and tapirs are in danger of extinction because of deforestation, habitat fragmentation and incidental deaths by human encounters.

In our sites, we often wake up to the sound of howler monkeys near the camp and see box turtles while planting. So far, only Nicolas, Juan and Jose have seen Jaguars.

Ecological & diverse forestation
In a semi-evergreen forest, some trees lose their leaves in the dry season (Picture of forest near our office in the Yucatán)

Our 124 Team Members

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85 Reforesters

Plant trees in the wet season and help trees grow by cleaning fast-growing grasses with machetes in the dry season (about 1/3 work seasonally)

4 Field Crew Leaders

Manage teams of 20 reforesters in the field.
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13 Nursery technicians

Collect seeds, grow seedlings, and prepare them for planting (not directly employed by Plant-for-the-Planet).

6 Ecologists and forest engineers

Select restoration sites, plan outplanting, maintenance and organise experiments.
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4 Data collectors

Measure trees, look for signs of disease and collect leaf, root and soil samples

6 Cooks

Work in our two kitchens and provide three meals a day to all team members
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4 Construction workers

Build and maintain team housing

2 Mechanics

Maintains our seedling-trucks, buses, tractors and backhoes
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Our 124 Team Members

Image

85 Reforesters

Plant trees in the wet season and help trees grow by cleaning fast-growing grasses with machetes in the fry season (about 1/3 work seasonally)
Image

4 Field Crew Leaders

Manage teams of 20 reforesters in the field.
Image

13 Nursery technicians

Collect seeds, grow seedlings, and prepare them for planting (not directly employed by Plant-for-the-Planet).
Image

6 Ecologists and forest engineers

Select reforestation sites, plan outplanting, maintenance and organise experiments.
Image

4 Data collectors

Measure trees, look for signs of disease and collect leaf, root and soil samples
Image

6 Cooks

Work in our two kitchens and provide three meals a day to all team members
Image

4 Construction workers

Build and maintain team housing
Image

2 Mechanics

Maintains our seedling-trucks, buses, tractors and backhoes
Image

Project Leaders

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    Dr. Leland Werden
    Director of Science
    Google Scholar
  • Leland, a restoration ecologist, grew up in New Hampshire, USA. He received his PhD while studying Plant and Microbial Biology with Dr Jennifer Powers at University of Minnesota, St. Paul and later continued his research at the Lyon Arboretum, University of Hawai’i. Since March 2021, he has been the Director of Science at Plant-for-the-Planet, where he is responsible for the long-term strategic planning of our restoration and conservation on the Yucatan Peninsula.
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    Dr. Anna K. Z. Carbonell
    Director of Yucatán Restoration & Research
    Research Gate

  • Anna grew up in Chetumal, a small city on the Yucatán Peninsula, about two hours from our restoration sites. After receiving a Bachelor’s at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (Mexico) and a Master’s in Plant Science at the University of Glasgow (UK), she received her PhD in Ecology at the University of Stirling (UK). Since October 2020, Anna has been the operational manager of the Yucatán Restoration site, working from our base-camp at the edge of the small village of Constitución, Mexico.
    Continuous Research for Climate Justice

    Restoration Ecology Research

    Since January 2020, we have been operating a 90-hectare research site (Las Americas 5). Here, we are conducting large-scale restoration field trials with scientists from ETH Zürich and Imperial College London. Restoration outcomes are incredibly complicated and variable. Testing theories at this scale allows us to test hypotheses that will help to improve the design and implementation of forest landscape restoration projects. We hope the research will allow us – and other practitioners – to get better at restoring tropical forests.

    We set up the first experiment with 16,000 trees in 2020 to understand what percentage of all trees planted should be nitrogen-fixing species to optimise overall survival and growth rates.

    Nitrogen-fixing tree species can help to fertilize the soil and help nearby tree species, without the ability to fix nitrogen, to grow.

    We are also testing a hypothesis that a simple addition of forest soil to a tree’s planting hole can increase survival rates. We expect to be introducing symbiotic microbes through the soil addition and thus the soil microorganism diversity in degraded soil towards communities that ‘help’ the trees grow.

    In a second experiment, to be set up in September 2021, we aim to determine how rates of forest recovery are influenced by the characteristics of planted tree species. We will plant tree species mixes that span a gradient of diversity (both species richness and functional diversity) and evaluate how characteristics of planted tree species can catalyze ecosystem recovery.

    Project Sites

    Yucatan Restoration and Conversation Sites
    Yucatan Restoration and Conversation Sites

    Balam-Kú/Calakmul Biosphere Reserve Region

    • Las Americas 7
      The western half of the site is mostly intact forest, with smaller patches of degradation. The eastern half is entirely deforested. We are planting in the deforested and degraded sites in 2021 and 2022.
    • Las Americas 5
      Our research site (90 ha) is located within the Balam-Kú reserve. It is just one km from our office and is used for our large field trials.
    • Las Americas 3 & 4
      Our two largest project sites are within the Calakmul and Balam-Kú reserves. They are the least degraded of all our project sites. We are currently preparing a thorough field analysis of the conditions of these forests. All areas not severely degraded are conserved and allowed to naturally regenerate. If sufficient degradation is discovered to merit an intensive restoration intervention, we will apply for a permit and potentially begin work in 2023.
    • Las Americas 1, 2 & 6
      These sites experienced varying states of degradation. In the years 2015–2020, we reforested and implemented enrichment planting.
    Explore the sites
    Yucatan Restoration and Conversation Sites

    San Felipe Bacalar Natural Protected Area

    • San Felipe Bacalar A
      339 hectares of forest burned in 2019. However, many trees survived the blaze. We are conducting enrichment planting in 2021 to restore the lost species.
    • San Felipe Bacalar B
      Another devastating fire in 2020 affected this section (220 ha) of the Natural Protected Area. We will be conducting enrichment planting here in 2022.
    • San Felipe Bacalar C, D & E
      In 2022 we will be converting what used to be a 87 ha coconut plantation back into a natural forest.
    Explore the sites

    The Las Americas sites are owned by Plant-for-the-Planet. The San Felipe Bacalar sites are owned by our partners, INIFAP. INIFAP is a federal agriculture and forestry research institution. We partnered to restore the San Felipe Bacalar Natural Protected Area. As part of this partnership, Plant-for-the-Planet is conducting the restoration and maintenance work of the trees for the first three years after planting, in close collaboration with INIFAP. INIFAP is then responsible for the long-term protection of the forests.

    We aim to plant 100 million trees in Mexico by 2030. That’s a very ambitious target. Not all of these trees are to be planted on the Yucatan Peninsula, but also in other efforts around the country. Of course, the sites of Plant-for-the-Planet and its partners are not big enough for all these trees. We are continuously looking for additional sites to continue our work.

    In addition to our work on the Yucatán Peninsula, we also work with partners to restore the forest in central Mexico (see below). Depending on where they are needed most, tree-donations to Plant-for-the-Planet are allocated to one of these two projects.

    We are incredibly grateful for every donor and supporter allowing us to restore these ecosystems. Due to the delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and in order to focus on maximising the diversity of species planted and to do our best to restore these ecosystems as well as possible, we are not scaling up our operations as quickly as initially planned. Thus, we expect that trees donated today might not be planted until late 2022 or even the 2023 planting season.

    Download Facts and Figures

    Project Records

    To give you a feel for our work we’ve digitised the daily work reports of our planting team and have compiled the delivery notes that accompany the seedlings from the nursery to our planting areas, our staff numbers, some of whom have been with us since the first tree, our buildings and machinery and an overview of further costs.
    Project Records

    FAQ

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    Volcano Valley Restoration near Toluca

    The forests in Mexico, the most populous state in the country, are under increasing threat due to the destruction of large areas of the forest through deforestation, forest fires and overgrazing. Poor management of natural resources is worsening the situation. Often the soil quality has already deteriorated to such an extent that natural regeneration of the forests is no longer realistic. Sustainable restoration is the last option here to prevent further erosion by renewing protective vegetation and increasing soil fertility. 
     
    As a result, the remaining forests and their resources can be saved for the future. With this goal in mind, Plant-for-the-Planet Mexico A.C. and PROBOSQUE, an organization assigned to the Mexican Ministry of the Environment, agreed to cooperate in the state of México (capital Toluca). By 2019, 2.8 million trees had been planted. The particular feature of this project is that the restoration covers a total of 197 sub-areas of varying sizes, all of which are managed in small, mostly rural structures. Of these, 92 are jointly managed ejidos (a total of 1,913,775 trees), the remaining areas are divided between small farmers (619,925 trees) and cooperatives (290,300 trees).
     
    All restored sites have been declared protected areas. When selecting the newly planted trees, care was taken to ensure that a mixture of indigenous tree species suitable for this part of the country was selected. These include various species of pine, agaves, a mimosa species and the Mexican cypress. They integrate optimally into the still existing forests and by this contribute to the preservation of the local biodiversity of secondary plants and animals. 
     
    By the end of 2020, we will have planted another 1,500,010 million trees together with the small farmers organized in cooperatives, thus spreading the responsibility of tree care over many shoulders.
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    Other Planting Projects

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    Ecuador
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    Costa-Rica