Nicodemus Wilderness Project
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Nicodemus Wilderness Project


NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Western Mountains, Bogota, Colombia

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Western Mountains, Bogota, Colombia
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Registered: December 2013
City/Town/Province: Bogota
Posts: 1
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Planting solutions in Bogota.
Santiago Ramírez Said
I am a Colombian student from the city of Bogota and I recently finished my last high school year. Since I was a little boy, I have been interested in biology, life and the environment, I was most often surrounded by plants and from really early I learnt how grateful trees are. If you give them love and dedication they will grow accordingly, into beautiful and healthy trees. By growing up close to trees I grew up with the idea that almost anything can be achieved with love and devotion, as even the more wrecked sapling can be helped into becoming the most beautiful of trees.

I’ve been working a lot in the “green area” doing activities such as recycling and waste management at school and at home, but for my last year at school I decided I wanted to do something different. While thinking what to do, I heard about the Nicodemus wilderness project which caught my attention instantly as I was one of the leaders in the project: Environmental Classes for the Less Fortunate, “Lets Cooperate”, as part of our CAS project for the IB, a project where we taught young students from low income schools, how to recycle and the importance of taking care of the environment, so that they could carry on with the green movement in their schools. During this period, soon after I read about the Apprentice Ecologist, a landslide, caused by the heavy rain and the vulnerable soil generated by the exploitation of the western mountains in Bogota, (for wood and construction space), devastated a big part of the western mountains of my city, destroying a big part of the forest which used to cover them.

In that moment, inspired by what I had read in the Apprentice Ecologist, I came up with the idea of starting a reforestation program, using native species from the western mountains, because if the mountains were covered again by trees, the soil would be more stable, compact and protected which would render it resistant to the heavy rains which hit the city every 6 months.
My project consisted on collecting several pounds of the eroded soil from the mountains, left after the landslide, and taking it to a controlled environment, my school provided me with an empty classroom for that. After that, 6 individuals of 6 different species of native trees were selected; of which 5 were planted in the picked, eroded soil and 1 would be planted in regular soil, in an attempt to find the species that would adapt the best, by comparing its growth to the individual in healthy soil, and could allow a wider reforestation on the mountains (taking into account that the soil in the mountains after the disaster was eroded and only strong species that didn’t require many nutrients would be able to thrive). In the end, 30 plants were transplanted into the eroded soil and 6 were left in regular nutrient soil. The transplant process was made by adding equal amounts of both eroded and healthy soil into pots, as the soil after a landslide isn’t completely eroded. The roots of all 30 trees were cleaned in water, to cleanse most traces of healthy soil so that the results obtained could be more accurate and precise.
The objective was to reduce the possibility of another landslide by using environmental friendly methods. In this way the project showed itself as an easy and effective method to prevent landslides, just by looking into a more green approach as a solution. The major of Bogota carried on with some procedures to reduce the danger of the slide, involving the creation of fences to hold the land and closing the path through one of the main streets that goes along the mountain. Although this are necessary procedures, the problem wasn’t really solved from within, meaning landslides were still possible and thus, the project was done to try to find a solution for a longer term , a natural way to heal the neglected area of the western mountains which is so vital for both the city and its inhabitants. Thus, with this work I hoped to contribute to the investigations done, so that this research could be taken as a model for a high scale solution, made by the government or an environmental organization.
The project had a total length of 17 weeks, starting the 7th of February and finishing the 21st of June. By checking the plants growth and counting their leaves once per week as well as noting qualitative changes, the best specimen was found. A normal growth, in comparison to the individual in healthy soil, would indicate if this species could continue to grow in the new eroded environment and the number of leaves would indicate if a species could carry on with a normal rate of photosynthesis due to the fact that some species lost their leaves fairly quick and died soon after that. The color and texture of the leaves as well as the presence of fungi was all noted and taken into account before deciding which specimen was the best for this new environment, caused by the landslide. After the four months of data collection, several statistical tools like T-test, standard deviation and bar graphs were used to process the data and find the species who had best adapted to the eroded soil. In the end, the 6 individuals of the selected tree (Dodonea viscosa) were planted in the actual eroded area plus 4 more of the same species. All the other species were planted but in healthy soils were they could thrive at their own pace and conditions.
The area affected by the landslide is of vital importance for the city, its ecosystem and its people. It hosts several species as it is covered by forests and several rivers are born in the mountain, though there are also a big number of roads, constructions and houses in this territory. Its importance lies on that it guarantees environmental quality, ecological sustainability and a big part of the natural resources which are directed to a big number of people in the capital of the country.
The project was important for the community because even if it was on a low scale, it helped in the reforestation of the western mountains which are so vital to live in Bogota. Also by planting trees on the hillside, the danger of another landslide may be reduced as the deforestation is one of the main causes the disaster occurred in the first place.
By the end of this project, I can say I was definitely a different person. This was a project like none I had ever done before. It required a big amount of dedication as taking care of 36 trees by yourself is not easy and takes a lot of time. I had to forfeit my break time at school, and also my free time at home more than once because just watering the plants, as it required an exact measure, took a lot of time. At times I thought it could have been too much for me. But for my surprise the more I worked, the more people got interested into the project I was carrying out and started to help me. To the end of the experiment, we were almost 10 people from different grades, taking measurements, watering the plants and taking care of them. Team work was definitely the key for the success this project had.
What started as a small project, could eventually became a bigger thing which might actually be used to help in the solution of a serious disaster who threatened a big part of my local population. I was able to learn that small projects can become something greater and that any small dream or sparkle can ignite a big fire. I’ve always believed what Margaret Mead said: “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. If you never give up, you can make great things and even we, as simple students, can make a change in the environment by taking action ourselves and working for what we believe is right.
Date: December 30, 2013 Views: 8007 File size: 30.2kb, 172.3kb : 612 x 612
Hours Volunteered: 200
Volunteers: 10
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19 & 16-19
Native Trees Planted: 40
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Registered: August 2014
City/Town/Province: Kampala
Posts: 1
August 28, 2014 4:38am