We had the first meeting today with one of the people (JL) who will help Finca Milagros rewild, and it makes me happy to finally take this step in helping the land return to a diverse and vibrant state. It feels good to talk with someone who is knowledgeable, pragmatic, and has both a vision and a grounded approach.
Here are some thoughts and plans so far:
We need to educate and closely follow up anyone doing work on the land. These are local people with a very different mindset from an ecological one. For instance, they see any thorny plants as a weed to remove, while they in reality are essential for helping the land recover. These pioneers provide the conditions for other plants to grow and thrive.
It’s much better to do some minimal pruning than to remove plants completely. Pruning can support the plants, in some cases.
We can use plants to clear up the water in a large pond on the land. For instance, these can be on a raft and can be removed when they have done their work. (These are non-native non-invasive plants.)
We need to prevent further erosion in some areas of land severely impacted by grazing. We can do this with rocks and plants.
A natural and healthy ecosystem is diverse. It is layered with large and smaller trees, bushes, and even smaller plants. These layers help keep the water in the local ecosystem. (If all trees are the same height, which they often are if planted, the water evaporates more quickly.)
Focusing only on tree planting, which many do here, is not enough and can be a bit misguided. A planted forest can be a monoculture just like any other monoculture. It’s important to focus on the diversity of the whole ecosystem which includes many other types plants, each serving important functions.
There are several engaged species here (we saw a red-light bird after a few minutes by the pond), so one priority is to protect their habitat and create more of the habitat they need.
We have a dry river going through the land. Neighbors higher up are likely taking the water. We need to identify the problem, and possible get to know the neighbors and see if we can find a solution that works for everyone. This is a longer term project.
I knew or suspected what’s listed above since I have been passionate about sustainability and ecology for decades. And it is a blessing to meet and be guided by someone far more knowledgeable than me, and someone who knows this particular ecosystem and has experience with rewilding and regeneration here.
The land is 15 hectares. One or two hectares are closer to the road and perfect for building and food production, and the rest will be wild and mostly left to itself with a few smaller interventions here and there. And we will move slowly and get to know the land, connect with more people in the area working on similar projects, and learn as we go.
Our first project was a tiny house where we will live while we get to know the land better. It’s good to go slowly, be informed, allow possibilities and visions to mature, and think through things thoroughly before doing anything more that impacts the land.
I wish to create wildlife gardens around this and future buildings. Gardens with native plants feeding and attractibg local wildlife, and especially insects and birds.