Let’s bring back forests to El Salvador!

5 February 2022
Gabriela Gavarrete

Suma un bosque, a project for ecosystem restoration focused on preventing wildfires in the Cerro Tecana, Santa Ana, El Salvador.

A journey to get involved with nature

I was born in the city, but my roots are in the countryside. My grandmother, who raised me, taught me a lot about nature. I’m convinced that knowledge passing through generations is incredibly valuable and aroused in me, the curiosity to explore and learn new things every day. I think El Salvador’s scenario in forest cover is very alarming, causing the loss of biodiversity and water scarcity, so all national actions and contributions must be approached from a multi-axis strategy and executed with different organizations and institutions that work for the environment, so we can achieve a great change.

In 2021, I started working with expert organizations in natural protected areas and forest management, where I learned techniques and methodologies to restore ecosystems that have generated great results in the regeneration of forests and the improvement of water infiltration. #DaleVidaAlTecana is a youth-led community initiative that was established in 2016 to restore Cerro Tecana (Tecana hill) and involves the inhabitants of the historic town of Santa Ana, surrounding communities, volunteers, students, and members of institutions who have been learning about the value of the forest.

Cerro Tecana (Tecana hill)

Cerro Tecana is an elevation located in Santa Ana City, with an altitude of 800 meters above sea level. The hill is in process of a natural protected area status and is predominantly covered by plant species characteristic of a deciduous forest. For years, wildfires have been occurring in Cerro Tecana, mostly caused by human activities. This is the main cause of the degradation of this ecosystem, followed by urbanization, agriculture and livestock-breeding activities. This forest is part of a biological corridor surrounding Santa Ana and borders mountain ranges and protected natural areas, making it of vital importance for the transit and refuge of many wildlife species.

The hill is emblematic of its invaluable history and culture, which has also led to a large number of community initiatives. These efforts are implemented by Un Pulmón Más, an organization dedicated to the restoration and conservation of Cerro Tecana through environmental education and ecotourism.

Helping forests get a new beginning

Suma un Bosque (one more forest), is an ecosystem restoration project focused on preventing wildfires. We will implement these prevention and restoration efforts on Cerro Tecana thanks to the Restoration Stewards program –by the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL), Global Landscapes Forum (GLF)– and the local organization Un Pulmón Más, which will support the technical methodologies to improve the regeneration of areas degraded by wildfires.

Suma un Bosque’s objectives are:

  • Initiate reforestation of the forest by planting native species through the creation of a nursery, using seeds from the forest itself, collected by volunteers and locals, to preserve the genetics of the vegetation.
  • To prevent wildfires, we will equip the leaders of Un Pulmón Más, who are in the front line handling fire emergencies. We will also plan awareness-raising activities addressed to the community and entities or organizations involved in the wildfires domain, also looking for preparing them to act during forestry fires.
  • We will offer training on wildlife management and sustainable agroforestry practices, and produce related audiovisual material.

Gabriela Gavarrete

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Supporting partners 2023

Supporting partners

The Restoration Stewards program provides funding, mentorship and training to deepen the impact of youth-led restoration projects. The year-long program is run by the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) under the banner of Generation Restoration to support and highlight the work of eight young restoration practitioners and their teams in 2023.

During the program, the Restoration Stewards and their teams are  supported to further develop their project and serve as ambassadors at both global and local levels. Globally, the Restoration Stewards share their journeys in a series of vlogs and blogs documenting their stories of inspiration and challenges and participate in different international events to showcase their work. Locally, they are sparking a restoration movement, mobilizing local communities and creating pathways to connect, share, learn, and act for livelihoods and landscapes.