My name is Federico Guss and I am doing an internship at AMBIO. I am studying a degree in Economics with a focus on Conservation at the Quest University in Canada, and I have been working for two in San Cristóbal. I came to Chiapas to work with AMBIO because it caught my attention, both the pioneering work in the implementation of Payments for Environmental Services (PSA), as well as their experience of more than twenty years in this field. My goal for this stay is to understand a little more about these programs and try to contribute a little to a better implementation.
During my stay,I am doing an investigation on the determinants of the permanence of the trees in the Scolel'te plots, after the finalization of payments, since this parameter is extremely important to evaluate the impact of the PES programs. So far, it seems that there are very important Scolel'te lessons for other PES programs that seek to keep their trees up and continue to provide a service, even in the conclusion of payments.
Last week I had the opportunity to accompany the program's technicians and directors in their activities in the Bonanza, Frailesca and Tierra Santa ejidos, in the municipality of Villa Corzo, Chiapas. These ejidos are located in the Sierra Madre, and adjoins the La Frailescana Natural Resources Protection Area, which offers connectivity to the El Triunfo and La Sepultura Biosphere Reserves.
These communities are primarily engaged in the cultivation of corn, coffee, beans, and fruit trees. I was impressed with the warmth of the people, the richness of the land, the delicious food and also the beauty of the landscape. In addition, I had the opportunity to visit the shadow coffee plots of Don Rosenberg and Don Salvador. They planted with agroforestry systems four years ago, mixing local trees such as Guachipilín (Diphysa americana) with coffee, beans and chili. I really liked seeing the pride with which they showed us their crops, which are already bearing fruit., . I really liked seeing the pride with which they showed us their crops, which are already bearing fruit.
I was also impressed by the fact that there are important work areas to strengthen these communities. For example, it is important to continue promoting agroforestry systems to prevent soil erosion, particularly in systems where only bean is being planted. It is important to mitigate the use of herbicides, with alternatives that do not threaten to pollute the water quality of the populations and the biodiversity of this area.
Finally, it is very important to continue with the community organization to prevent itsexploitation by diverse actors that take advantage of the lack of access to liquidity of the smallholders and offer loans with very high interest rates, thus presenting a real risk for the families of these ejidos. These are important challenges, but I think there is a good opportunity to achieve an improvement in the quality of life in these ejidos.
Here are some photos to share this experience.