Women Farmers in Itzapa, Guatemala, and AIRES - Engaged in Agro-Forestry for the Earth promotes tree planting to sequester carbon and improve farming techniques, such as preventing erosion, improving yields and increasing crop diversity. The activity also builds efficient brick stoves with chimneys that reduce both the negative health impacts caused by smoke inhalation and the need to cut down trees for fuel.
- 4 million trees planted in Guatemala;
- 150,000 trees planted in Itzapa;
- 800 energy efficient stoves built.
The harmful smoke emitted by the use of traditional wood fires for cooking has negative health and environmental impacts. Not only does it cause lung disease, it also contributes to deforestation. Deforested mountain slopes cause soil erosion and dangerous mudslides.
In 1998, a group of women farmers in Itzapa, Guatemala, partnered with AIRES (Alianza Internacional de Reforestacion) to learn how to farm with trees, in order to prevent soil erosion, mitigate climate change and improve crop yields and diversity without using dangerous chemicals. The women farmers planted thousands of native trees each year, trees that are growing and sequestering carbon into the future.
In addition, the women partnered with AIRES to build fuel‐efficient brick stoves. The stoves prevent lung disease, burns, and use half the amount of firewood as traditional smoky fires. The women have continued planting tens of thousands of trees each year since receiving the initial farmer training from AIRES technicians.
Helping the planet
The activity is already seeing positive results with more than 150,000 trees planted in Itzapa, more than 800 energy efficient stoves built in dozens of communities in Guatemala and the reforestation of mountain slopes of an entire region. The trees planted by the women prevent mudslides and soil erosion, clean the air, provide shade and sequester carbon, which helps mitigate climate change.
Itzapa, Guatemala, is a town of roughly 40,000 people encircled by farms, in the south‐central Department of Chimaltenango, Guatemala.
The partnership with AIRES benefits 60 women farmers and their families, but the entire Itzapa region also benefits from the more than 150,000 trees planted on the mountain slopes and fields surrounding the town.
The 60 women farmers are leaders of a large tree nursery; they have improved their food crops by farming with trees; they have created micro‐businesses in order to re‐invest in the tree nursery; and they have built fuel‐efficient brick stoves to reduce their use of firewood.
AIRES has scaled this work up to 130 communities and schools in two Departments of south-central Guatemala: Chimaltenago and Solola. They have begun to work in a few villages in Sacatepequez.
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