Highlights of the essay by Guillermo Recio Guajardo (Mexico) who is one of the eight finalists of The World Bank Essay Competition 2009.
Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico, is known for its enormous diversity of natural resources with over 7,000 plant species, or one fourth of all the botanical species in Mexico, that includes various species of forest resources, such as pine, fir, and ash forests.
Widespread deforestation for commercial gains is having serious repercussions on the socio-economic conditions of the indigenous people of this region. Lack of forest cover has led to a decrease in the rainfall in that region and has led to extreme fluctuations in temperature. These conditions have led to the desertification of that region which has seriously affected agriculture. In the absence of their traditional occupation, the locals have been forced to turn to sawmills for their livelihoods, although they are witnessing its consequences! Some of the other impacts of this loss in livelihood include migration, malnutrition, and drug trafficking.
To address this situation, Guillermo and his friends established a Biointensive Orchard, with the help of a local family at Huiyochi. The orchard uses sustainable agricultural methods that put nutrients back into the earth. “Creating an orchard does not require big tools, only pick axes, shovels, and forks,” says Guillermo. They grew beetroot, zucchini, corn, potato, and radish, and it became a good source of revenue for the family. The Ecology and Population Association [Asociación de Ecología y Población] mentions the following features of the Biointensive Orchard: (a) It obtains results of between 400 and 3,100 percent, even in adverse soil conditions; (b) It does not require fertilizers or chemical pesticides; (c) It only needs 30 percent water, which is particularly important in arid zones or areas that receive little rainfall; and (d) It reconstructs the soil 60 times faster than nature itself.
During the 2007–2008 period, 12 such biointensive orchards were established in Huiyochi, extending to the neighboring communities of Guacayvo, Osachi, and Tayarachi. This initiative is one of the best examples of climate change adaptation strategy by youth that I have ever come across! As pointed out by the essay, poor local people are most vulnerable to climate change yet they are the ones who are most ignorant about it, till an irreversible change rudely brings in the realization.
In order to further combat climate change in this region, the essay presents two more projects. One of them is environmental education for the youth. This is vital in building up eco-conscious citizens and also because, “many of the best ideas come from young minds!”
Tarahumara Verde, a program in collaboration with environmental NGOs, seeks to reforest native species of the Sierra Tarahumara. This program aspires to slow down and reverse the climate change taking place in this region and will also protect plant species.