Reforesting the Sierra Andina of Piura, Peru with native tree species
We will use native trees to reforest the sierra of Piura, Peru to prevent soil erosion, species losses, and to increase water infiltration.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
I am 18 years old or older.
Agricultural landscape in Piura. In areas with agroforestry, the soil is relatively under control, however there are plenty of open erosion scars. In general the landscape needs more trees.
Agricultural landscape in the sierra of Piura. Most trees in the foto are exotics, and the landscape in general is in need of more and strategically placed trees.
Agroforestry system in the sierra of Piura.
Deforested, and eroding mountainside. A perfect candidate for planting trees.
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
24 August 1966
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
Huancabamba, Montero, Frias, Ayabaca, Morropón, are all important areas of work for Progreso in Piura Region of Peru. Progreso also works with coffee and cacao growers in Jaen, Amazonas Region.
Website or social media url(s)
Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)
Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
Progreso has been planting trees in agroforestry systems for 26 years, and in reforestation projects for 10 years, since 2010, so there is a deep-seeded commitment to enhancing forest cover on the Pacific slope of the Andes in the work we do. However, the El Niño event of 2017 enhanced the regional understanding of the need to enhance reforestation efforts and include more native species. Recognition of the ecosystem services that native trees provide that exotics, like eucalyptus and pine, do not has been an important factor in why communities are seeking more native species to protect water sources, such as springs, creeks and seasonally active creeks, and rivers.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Deforestation leads to soil loss via erosion and both lead to problems such as local extinctions due to habitat loss, loss of soil fertility, enhanced drought stress to crops from reduced soil water, reduced water flow in local rivers from reduced infiltration, and increased risk of flooding from increased run-off from deforested land. Reforestation with native trees helps alleviate these issues by providing habitat for native animals, reduces soil erosion and increases water infiltration.
3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Progreso works with local farmers and community groups to plant trees on private land and community-held land. Exotic species, such as eucalyptus and pine, have been heavily planted in many areas of Piura, but do not provide habitat for native species. They also do not promote the restorative soil processes that native species do, and when planted in inappropriate places, can reduce soil water. So, we want to promote the use of native species in contrast to exotic species specifically for ecosystem services that exotic trees do not provide.
Upon reviewing tree plantings that we have previously promoted we have noticed that trees were planted with timber production, not ecological services, as the primary purpose. We seek to expand the vision of our tree-planting partners to include ecological services, and to enhance the soil conservation potential of their work. Progreso has been working to stock tree nurseries in our partner communities with more native seedlings, and with more variety of native species. Additionally, we have just finished a catalog to assist producers in choosing trees that are appropriate for their needs, and that fit their landscape and project.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
Agroforestry is an ancient concept that employs a broad range of techniques and technologies to accomplish similar goals: sustainable food production and healthy soil. We seek to encourage regional producers to incorporate reforestation activities within an agricultural landscape in which deforestation has led to widespread soil degradation. Soil degradation is the problem we seek to address since it limits the current and future productive capacity of the landscape. The innovative nature of our work is really to re-integrate the knowledge and use of native trees in the landscape to protect valuable resources, like healthy soil and water sources. We will work with producers to identify the best utilization of each species.
5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?
Progreso already works with a wide range of partners in our tree-planting work. We work with the Regional government of Piura, international funding entities (such as Ecosia), local municipal governments, community agricultural associations, and private landowners. With financing from Changemakers we seek to continue this legacy and enhance our commitment to collaborative work. Some of our most effective partnerships harness the power of "mingas", community work groups, to reforest communally held lands in partnership with trees grown in municipality nurseries from seeds provided by Progreso. The Regional Government of Piura is also a partner in planting activities, through the Inunred program, which is interested in reforestation as a method to reduce runoff in an effort to reduce the risk of flooding in lower elevations. Progreso has been able to connect the Regional Government with local municipalities and community groups to supply trees and reforestation equipment.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
Progreso has a broad variety of projects in which it seeks to boost rural income through novel agricultural products. The producers we work with produce shade-grown cacao and coffee, bamboo, native edible mushrooms, among other things. However, the reforestation work that Progreso does has generated marketable products for producers already, even though the trees are not ready to harvest. During pruning and thinning practices, producers collect woody stems and branches and make pallets for sale to local produce shipping companies, providing income prior to merchantable timber coming on line. Generating revenue streams from reforestation operations helps ensure their viability and that the trees grow until merchantable size. Additionally, the nature of our reforestation projects inherently focuses on community participation and community benefit. The "minga" labor style mentioned earlier also generates social impact by generating interest in community reforestation projects.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
Due to the on-the-ground-realities of the agrarian, mountainous sierra of Piura, reforestation must be done on a case-by-case basis, one farmer, or one community at a time. Fortunately, Progresso has been working with the communities of the sierra for 26 years and has earned the respect of communities and producers. Our reputation continues to allow us to open new doors with new districts, municipalities, and "caseríos" (akin to an unincorporated community in the USA), that lead to new commitments to reforest appropriate sites. As such, the impact of our work will continue to grow in a linear manner, rather than the exponential manner that "scaling" suggests.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?
Centuries of agricultural production in the mountains of Piura has left much of the landscape without vegetative cover, with widespread soil loss, degradation, erosion , and landslides. This has led to loss of wildlife, reduced water quality, reduced base flow in rivers, increased flooding potential, suppressed crop yields, and reduced potential for future production. Reforestation provides ecosystem services for up- and down-stream communities. The Regional Government gains flood protection and more reliable water sources, local communities gain more reliable water flows, and higher value more consistent crop harvests, and communities across the sierra benefit from increased biodiversity.
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
Progreso's annual operating budget is about $1 million for all of its projects. Fortunately, trees are relatively low-maintenance once they are planted. Site monitoring for tree growth is a strength for Progreso relative to other Peruvian stakeholders, since we have GPS-capable tablets with the ODK app that allows us to verify location and growth ofplanted trees. Carbon credits have become an on-the-ground reality for some projects for Progreso in Piura, and Progreso is negotiating with the European Union and other entities to expand carbon credit programs for our reforestation projects. We also seek to engage the Regional Government and other entities for ecosystem service payment projects to ensure continued funding for the projects.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Progreso currently employs 30 people, with seven technicians just within the reforestation project. The Executive Director, and Project Manager will also be involved in the project. All technicians have received the degree of Forestry Technician in Peru, and are full-time employees. Progreso is always willing to hire enough staff/technicians to ensure that project advancement and completion is assured.
11. How did you hear about this challenge?