After a short interlude with a boy who was looking to buy some worms for his school's compost*, Eulalio sent Millie and I over to the vivero (nursery) across the street.
We had only a difficult to pronounce name, Merari, to guide us, and it showed. We talked to the guard, who had no idea what we were talking about, until some lady overheard us and pointed us toward the correct office.
We found Merari and talked to her about CONAFOR, the Mexican government forestry department whose local office we were in. She told us there were three divisions that could do reforestation projects: Environmental Compensation, which deals with payment for environmental services (we need one of demz in the US!), Reforestation proper, and Special Projects. Obviously, most of the projects are done by the reforestation division, byt Environmental Compensation might pay for a reforestation to prevent erosion, restore an aquifer, etc, and there might be a Special Project that happens to be a reforestation.
Locally, the three main benefactors of reforestation have been Bimbo (a mexican bread giant), Cemex (a cement company), and Coca-Cola. Conafor provided the trees and expertise, while the corporate partners provided some funding and the land to be reforested. It seems that the problem in Sonora is not so much finding the trees to plant or even the land to plant them on... the main problem is follow up.
Last year, Mexico set records for the most trees planted in one day, but as I was asking Merari and her colleague where one of those plantings was, the latter perked up and said "I wonder how its doing?" Which is what happens when your tree planting budget is a lot bigger than your monitoring budget.
We walked around the nursery a bit, but Merari explained it was rather empty because CONAFOR is trying to get out of the nursery buisiness and is begginging to outsource most of its tree seedling production. This is actually cheaper for CONAFOR since it doesn't have to maintain all of that pesky nursery infrastructure, and it helps keep the commercial nurseries in buisiness. In fact, Merari says that now there are nurseries that specialize in providing tree plugs for reforestation.
What plants there were in the nursery were from what Merari called "Productive Projects," another division of CONAFOR, and they were mostly agave plugs for tequila and pine seedlings for wood production. "They really shouldn't be here," she said, "they were supposed to get picked up a while back."**
We thanked Merari and headed back. As we were walking, we started talking about how lost I would have been without Millie. All day long she had been filling in words while I got stick, taking the right buses to get where we were going, etc. I think this is a good model, bringing someone along who is from the area.
"It'll be just like Heroes," I joked, "One of us, One of them!"
*Boy: "Where can I get some worms?"
Eulalio: "Find a place thats always wet."
->Boy looks confused at Eulalio's misinterpretation of his question<- ->Andon hides a chuckle<-
** Unfortunately, the pictures and video from this trip were lost in a terrible act of stupidity by yours truly.