The Mixteca Region Reforestation in Mexico

Before Spanish explorers arrived in what is now Oaxaca, Mexico, the Mixteca region was forested. The land was changed into a desert due to goat herding and heavy logging in the late 20th century. Erosion management measures were not implemented alongside the use of modern farming practices, further degrading the soil.

Jess Leon Santos, a farmer in the 1980s, was taught by Guatemalan immigrants about traditional farming methods. To put these methods into practice, including reforestation as a means of restoring the soil, he established the Center for Integrated Small Farmer Development in the Mixteca (CEDICAM).

CEDICAM has not only reforested over a thousand acres (with one million trees) through the use of terraced agricultural techniques, containment ditches for preventing hillside erosion, and native tree species but it has also helped increase economic opportunity and even gender equality in the region. In 2008, Santos won the Goldman Environment Award.


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