Millie and I set off again today to visit a couple of tree nurseries. Both of these nurseries provide tree seedlings for "Reforestations" which in Mexico seems to mean any type of tree planting, including city parks!
The first nursery we visited was run by the Ecological and Sustainable Development Commission of the State of Sonora, and was designed to provide native plants like mesquite, palo fierro, and bugambilia (which apparently isnt native, but isn't invasive either since its sterile) to "urban reforestations" like parks, schools, even backyards. We spoke to "Ingeniero" Eulalio* as he showed us around and told us about all the advantages of native plants: less maintenence, less water use, more pride of place, more wildlife habitat. These were not news to me, but hearing them from a man that reminded me of my Abuelito (Grandfather**) was a new experience. Eulalio has the manner of a mexican farmer and the knowledge of an field ecologist. He's shy, calm, and casual, yet it seemed that he was almost holding back a huge resevouir of practical wisdom in his head.
As we sere talking, a man approached us to ask if he could take a palo fierro tree home. "Its not in season yet, sorry," replied Eulalio "come back in a couple of months." The man didn't like this, but Eulalio told him that if he were to plant the tree today, it would surely die because it was too small. Eventually Eulalio forwarded him to a commercial nursery, but what struck me was the lack of a profit motive in his manner.
"Oh, we can't sell trees," he explained, "no man, if we could sell trees, we'd be all over the place, selling trees to anyone without care about whether or not they make it. Thats whats been happening with some of these 'reforestations,' the government gives people money to plant trees, but they just stick them in the ground without watering them. Sometimes they don't even do that! They found a pile of tree seedlings one time that was supposed to be a reforestation."
"What do you think the mortality is on a project like that without watering?" I asked with Millie's help.
"A hundred and ten percent," we laughed while my heart sank, "I don't think any of those trees are going to make it."
*Note: in Spanish speaking countries, the idea of calling someone doctor as a title had been expanded to include everthing one can study. Eulalio is an environmental Ingeniero, or engineer.
** Another note: this blog is going to become increasingly bilingual. I'm fighting hard against the urge to switch to spanish completely, so if you don't want to learn the language of most of your hamisphere thats your problem.